Apple airs new ad for the holidays: ‘The Song’

Continuing its ‘From one gift come many’ campaign, Apple has published a new commercial entitled ‘The Song’. The ad depicts a young woman listening to a song on a record player, from her youth. The girl then learns the tune using their guitar, recording the tune on a Mac.

The girl then leaves an iPad preloaded with the same song for an older relation, her grandmother, provoking the same emotions of her childhood and memories. The ad concludes with a Happy Holidays message from the company. Apple describes the ad with the following prelude on its website:

Some gifts create a million more. Watch as one budding musician uses Mac and GarageBand to make a heartfelt song for her grandmother.

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Robinhood launches on App Store, brings zero-commission stock trading to the masses

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For several years, my grandmother has encouraged me to get involved with the stock market. While she was successful at persuading my older brother into investing in penny stocks, I have never taken the initiative to learn how the stock market truly works. For that reason, I was excited when I heard about a brand new app called Robinhood, which provides zero-commission stock trading at your fingertips.

While online brokers are nothing new, with existing firms such as Interactive Brokers and E-Trade, Robinhood is a mobile-first service that doesn’t require a desktop. Whether you are a twenty-something college student that doesn’t fully understand how the stock market functions, an experienced Wall Street stock trader, or fall somewhere in between, the app makes stock trading easier for the masses. Read more

Snapchat partners with Square, launches Snapcash for instantly sending money between users

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Snapchat today announced a new service, in partnership with mobile-payment service Square, dubbed Snapcash. The new feature allows Snapchat users to quickly and easily send payments to one another. Users can do so by simply swiping right to chat on the main screen in Snapchat and then entering a dollar amount. The money will go directly from one user’s bank account to another.

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CBS Radio News update adds CarPlay support with streaming news, local weather, and bug fixes

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CBS has updated its Radio News application with support for Apple’s CarPlay interface. The new UI allows users to browse and play the network’s library of on-demand shows such as the CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes. Users will also find that the Now Playing screen presents them with their local weather conditions.

Also included in the new update is a set of bug fixes for issues such as two audio tracks playing back at once for some users. There is also a new introduction screen that walks users through the functions of the app. CBS News also rolled out a channel for the Apple TV earlier today.

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Any.do gets a massive update to version 2.0 with a focus on collaboration

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Any.do, the popular to-do list management application for iOS, has received a huge update to version 2.0, which introduces a new focus on collaboration among teams and families. All of the app’s previous functions still work the way they did in previous versions, so existing users won’t need to re-learn anything, but those who want better support for groups and sharing will find a lot of useful enhancements in this update.

A new chat function allows members of a project to talk with each other, share files from Dropbox, add and remove group members, and more. Shared lists and tasks make it easy to quickly assign work, update the group’s progress, or just add something to a shared grocery list.

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Microsoft outs upcoming fitness ‘Band’ with premature Mac and iPhone app releases (updated)

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Update: Microsoft has now announced the Microsoft Band, a $199 fitness band that does everything described below. It goes on sale Thursday.

Microsoft hasn’t officially announced its wearable device, but it seems the company has accidentally published its desktop syncing client to the Mac App Store early. Whoops. The device is called the Microsoft Band (possibly Lumia Band, according to some currently non-functional support URLs) and sports a 310 x 102 resolution display.

The Microsoft privacy policy for the app lists some of the Band’s features: “Microsoft Band sensors help you keep track of things like your heart rate, steps, calories burned, and sleep.” Links in the document claiming to lead to a page with additional data, such as a list of sensors, currently lead to a 404 page.

Other key feature include the ability to get phone notifications on the Band, create reminders using Cortana, and more:

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Microsoft OneNote for iPhone and iPad updated with iOS 8 support, iPhone 6 design, and more

Microsoft has pushed out updates for its OneNote client on both iPhone and iPad, adding support for new features added in iOS 8 and a design that’s optimized for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Users can now password protect sections of documents directly from mobile devices (a feature that used to require a Windows PC). Those with an iPhone 5s or newer will also find that they can now unlock password-protected sections of documents using Touch ID. That feature isn’t mentioned in the iPad change log, so users on the iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 might need to wait for a future update to enable it.

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Phone 2 Go app brings Time Warner Cable home phone service to mobile devices for no additional cost

Time Warner Cable today announced a new smartphone app that will let its customers use their home phone service on mobile devices for no additional fees. That means that users with a Time Warner Cable home phone service, which starts at $10/month, can now text and call through the new Phone 2 Go app on smartphones and tablets. The service requires a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection and will also work for international calling and texting: Read more

Creators of ‘Room’ say Facebook copied their chatroom app, threaten legal action

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Following the launch of Facebook’s new “Rooms” app for iPhone, the company behind a similar piece of software called “Room” is claiming the social media outlet copied its intellectual property. The Room application, which like Facebook’s app allows users to create and invite others to chatrooms while remaining anonymous, was first released on the App Store back in September.

The company’s Damien Rottemberg, Co-Founder and CTO of Room, sent over the following statement on the situation: Read more

Review: Pixelmator for iPad out now, a desktop-class photo editor for a mobile device

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Note: The app is still rolling out worldwide. Check back soon if the links don’t work for you!

Announced during Apple’s October event, Pixelmator for iPad ($4.99) is an important stepping stone in the iPad’s history. The Mac app is regularly featured by Apple as an exemplar app in the Mac App Store and it is clear Apple wants to use Pixelmator as a ‘trophy’ app in the same way. No doubt this app (aside from games) is one of a handful that will directly benefit from the A8X performance gains.

I tested the app on an iPad Air, although the app technically supports all the way back to iPad 3, even some operations on the Air felt slow. I would be a bit cautious if you intend to install it on one of Apple’s older tablets.

As a 1.0 release, the depth and breadth of this app is staggering. There are a myriad of effects, painting brushes, color adjustments and other features to help edit and create images. The vast majority of the Mac app’s functionality have been ported across to the iPad with a touch-friendly interface, including advanced editing options like layer styles. There are also some template options that aren’t currently included in the Mac app to appease the ‘Photo Booth’ selfie crowd.

Read on for 9to5Mac’s full review of Pixelmator for iPad …

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Inbox for Gmail: hands-on and first impressions

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Google this afternoon announced Inbox for Gmail, its all-new emailing solution that is intended to coexist with the regular Gmail platform (Think Paper for Facebook?). Inbox for Gmail is available on an invite only basis for Android, iOS and Chrome. I am fortunate enough to have received an invite to Inbox for Gmail, and I have been giving the iPhone app a rundown to see how it works. For the most part, Inbox is everything that you know and love about Gmail in a sleeker package.

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Dropbox app updated with iPhone 6 optimizations, Touch ID unlocking

Popular file-sharing / file-syncing app Dropbox has updated its iOS app to version 3.5 today, with some nice improvements. The app now takes advantage of all available resolution on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, rather than in a scaled iPhone 5s form. Dropbox doesn’t do anything novel with the additional space, but there is benefits to being able to see more items in a folder list at a time. The quality of file previews are also noticeably improved because of the additional screen size, with photo viewing mostly affected.

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