Opinion: Roku’s new media players use voice search and apps to make Apple TV feel old

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Just so there’s no ambiguity on this point, I’m definitely an Apple TV fan. The first-generation model was a (literally) hot mess, but Apple did a much better job with the streamlined second- and third-generation versions, which I use every day and have strongly recommended for years. If you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, the Apple TV is one of the top three accessories you can buy for under $100, and nearly a no-brainer at Apple’s recently announced $69 price point.

Even as a fan, though, I give Apple TV’s chief competitor Roku great credit for developing compelling alternatives. According to reports, Roku is the number one seller of media streamers, and has been outselling the Apple TV for some time now. While it’s true that sales don’t necessarily reflect quality, Roku has earned its numbers by frequently iterating on its products — ironically unlike Apple, which has spent years letting an old Apple TV design chug along as a “hobby.” The difference in Roku’s and Apple’s approaches became starker yesterday when Roku released the new Roku 3 with Voice Search ($100) and new Roku 2 ($70), updates to two of its already-successful devices. These media streamers include several of the key features Apple should be adding to the Apple TV, including voice search, downloadable apps, games, and more…

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Apple’s 2015 MacBook Pro and Air models now at US retailers Amazon, Best Buy, MacMall, B&H and others

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Refreshed 2015 MacBook Air and Pro models are now available at major US retailers following their announcement at Apple’s Spring Forward event on March 9th.

Currently, Amazon has all of the new MacBook Air models in stock and ready to ship, from $899. The new MacBook Pro models are also listed on Amazon as well, although supply is currently more limited. 2014 versions are discounted.

B&H offers $5 off and no tax at the time of purchase outside of New York on the new MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros as well as a free copy of Parallels. 2014 versions are discounted.

MacMall also offers $5 off the new MacBook Airs and Pros and tax only in a few states. 2014 models discounted.

Meanwhile if you want to get your hands on one today, Best Buy offers free site to store on the new MacBook Pro/Airs which will have stock varied by location. 2014 models discounted.

If you want to save some real money, 2014 models are seeing deep discounts at 9to5toys. At the Apple Refurb store you can pick up some heavy discounts on previous models while extraordinary savings are available at B&H and Best Buy on 2014 models including a student deal that chops the 2014 models down to $750 .

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Apple tops the list of the world’s most admired companies for 8th year running

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Apple has topped the list of Fortune‘s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies for the 8th consecutive year, with Google taking the number two slot occupied last year by Amazon, while investment company Berkshire Hathaway moved up one slot into third place.

Apple received the top score in all nine categories of innovation, people management, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, quality of management, financial soundness (was never going to be too much doubt about that one), long-term investment value, quality of products and global competitiveness …  Read more

Amazon releases Kindle Textbook Creator for Mac, a cross-platform iBooks Author competitor

Kindle Textbook Creator Beta Mac

Apple first released its iBooks Author Mac app for creating interactive textbooks for the iBooks Store back in 2012, and now Amazon is delivering its own textbook composing Mac app for publishing to the Kindle Store. Kindle Textbook Creator, announced today, is available in beta for both Mac and PC with the competitive benefit of publishing to the cross-platform Kindle Store, which is available on iOS, Mac, Android, and more. Read more

Amazon’s Kindle for iOS app updated w/ Goodreads integration, Audible progressive play, more

Amazon pushed out an updated version of its Kindle for iOS app today bringing a list of new features to the reading app.

Kindle for iOS now includes integration with Goodreads, the social cataloging service it bought last year, allowing readers users to share book progress and completion status, quotes, and more Kindle to Goodreads. iPad Kindle app users now have access to Amazon’s Book Browser to view book descriptions and customer ratings; Kindle Unlimited customers (30-day free trial) can download books directly from the Book Browser. The new version also adds a feature called Audible Progressive Play, which allows audiobook listeners using the Amazon-owned Audible service to play content as it downloads.

The update also adds new ways for users to access information and details about Kindle books. Check the extensive change log of the latest version below for more information:
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Tim Cook demoed Apple Watch for Chinese officials on recent US visit

Tim-Cook-china-meeting-02Tim Cook shows China’s top internet regulator Lu Wei the Apple Watch

Apple CEO Tim Cook alongside Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and other tech executives recently met with China’s Cyberspace Administration ministerLu Wei while the government official was in the US, according to a report from China’s government-run china.com.cn (via Bloomberg). Read more

Chance’s holiday gift guide: the products I use everyday

Holiday Gift Guide 13

I’ve already broken down the best gifts for students this holiday season, but now it’s time to talk about the best gifts for all the Apple lovers in your life. These are most of the products that I use on a daily basis. Whether I use them on-the-go, while working, or pretty much 24/7, these are some of the best products that have earned a coveted spot in my daily routine.

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Must-have iPhone, iPad, & Apple Pay apps for holiday gift shopping this year

Beats iPhone 6 Apple gift cards

Shopping this year through iPhone and iPad apps is significantly more convenient thanks to Apple Pay and Touch ID. The latest iPhones and iPads allow you to avoid the arduous process of re-entering your credit card information each time at checkout and instead pay for your purchase with the touch of your finger.

Hopefully our holiday gift guides are steering you in the right direction for what to buy this year, especially with guides focused on using your iPhone and iPad in the carmaking music with Apple devicesoutfitting your home with connected smart devices, and more, and these shopping apps should continue to help you along the way. Read more

Holiday gift guide: apps and products for students and teens

Holiday Gift Guide students

Technology has totally changed the lives of teenagers and students in this generation, both for the good and the bad. There are apps and products that dramatically make our lives easier and more efficient, but also things that kill our productivity. I’m generally more favorable to the latter of those two, but I’ll breakdown the best of both worlds and exactly what gift the teens and students in your life today might be interested in this holiday season.

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Review: Deliveries for Mac and iOS is the perfect way to track your online orders for the holidays

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With Cyber Monday coming up, a lot of us shop online, as opposed to going out to the store. It would be nice if there was an easy way to track all of your packages. Of course you could set up mail rules to filter any emails that contain the words, “the tracking number,” but all that does is put all of your emails into a folder without notifying you of any changes in the status of your package. After initially receiving the email most forget about it and never track their packages, which happens all the time to me causing me to not pick up my packages for weeks. Or you can be the type of person that can obsessively track your package by constantly pressing the refresh button hoping that there’s an update to no avail. Well there’s an app that can track your tracking numbers and keep you updated about the status of your order. Deliveries is powerful, handy and easily notifies you of your packages.

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Roundup: The best iPad, iPhone, Mac, iTunes, Beats, and other tech Black Friday deals

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Black Friday can be absolutely overwhelming. Every retailer is vying for your attention and money. That’s why we’ve vetted each and every major Black Friday ad to find only the very best deals.

Remember, this master list was curated from pre-announced deals. We fully expect many retailers to hit us with surprise deals throughout the next week. That’s why it’s important you follow 9to5Toys on Twitter/Facebook, and sign-up for our email newsletter. The 9to5Toys team is going to be working around the clock to bring you the Black Friday deals you can’t afford to miss.

Continue on for the definitive Black Friday 2014 ‘Best Of’ list… Read more

iPad usage in North America rises slightly in September over third quarter

North American Tablet Usage Sep 2014 Chitika

The latest numbers from advertising company Chitika Insights show that iPad web usage in North America rose nearly 2% in September, marking a slight increase over the third quarter. Chitika found the iPad to have a 79.9% share of tablet web traffic in the United States and Canada during the month, compared to a 78.0% share reported in July. Read more