Google’s free photo editing app Snapseed 2.0 gets lens blur, layers, new UI, more

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Snapseed, the excellent free photo editing application, today received its first major update since Google purchased developer Nik Software back in 2012. Version 2.0 arrived in the App Store with a brand new user interface and a huge collection of new features, most notably including spot healing, lens blur effects, perspective transformation, and a non-destructive editing system that can copy edits from one image to another. The app remains universal across iOS devices, and now has a minimalist UI with Material Design influence.

While Apple’s Photos application improved considerably with the release of iOS 8, Snapseed’s unique ability to selectively fix small parts of photos — such as improving the brightness level of one dark face in an otherwise bright image — has kept it relevant as a key iOS photo editing tool for years. Snapseed 2.0 expands upon that feature, letting you apply filters and brushes selectively with a brush tool. You can also go into individual layers and make adjustments to changes that were previously applied during the editing process.

Snapseed 2.0 is available for free from the App Store now. Additional details are after the break…

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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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Microsoft unveils iPad-priced $499 Surface 3 as Google shows sub $100 Chromebit HDMI stick, $149 Chromebooks

Microsoft shifted its focus when it introduced the Surface Pro 3 last year to target both the iPad and the MacBook, but today the company announced a more consumer level iPad-like version of its tablet simply called the Surface 3 with the same $499 starting price as the iPad Air 2.

Google also unveiled a collection of new competitively priced hardware including new Chromebooks and a Chromebit HDMI running Chrome OS for under $100 … Read more

App Store revenue likely to double by 2018, generating $20B – IDC/App Annie

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Data from IDC and App Annie suggested that both Apple and Google are likely to see their app store revenues doubling within the next four years, reports Re/code. Based on Apple’s 2014 total revenue of $10B, this would suggest that Apple is likely to hit total revenue of $20B in 2018, with developers seeing $14B of it.

“I would consider this projection conservative,” App Annie CEO Bertrand Schmitt said in an interview, noting that the company has consistently been revising its forecasts up over the past two years as revenue has exceeded expectations.

The study also suggested that the trend toward freemium apps, which derive their income from in-app purchases, will continue–though this model is more common on Android than iOS …  Read more

Millions of British Safari users able to sue Google over secretly-dropped cookies

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UK Safari users have been given the go-ahead to sue Google for continuing to drop cookies on their devices even after they had refused permission through their browser settings.

It was revealed in 2012 that Google bypassed the setting in Safari which instructed sites not to drop cookies, enabling it to deliver personalized ads. The FTC in the US fined the company $22.5M for the practice, with millions more in additional fines levied by 38 US states. There was no government action in the UK, but a group of British iPhone users took Google to court, seeking compensation for breaching their privacy.

Google had attempted to have the case dismissed, claiming that there was no case to answer as the plaintiffs had not suffered any financial harm, but the UK’s Court of Appeal has rejected this argument, allowing the case to proceed …

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Apple, Google & other large tech companies urge the White House & Congress not to renew the Patriot Act

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Apple is one of ten tech giants to once again call on the US Government not to reauthorize the Patriot Act in its current form. The Act expires on 1st June unless it is renewed by Congress. Apple was joined by AOL, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo.

In an open letter to President Obama, NSA Director Admiral Rogers and other prominent government figures, the companies urge Congress to end the bulk collection of communications metadata–the logs that determine how and when ordinary citizens contact each other.

The letter says that mass surveillance must end, and that a revised bill must contain mechanisms to ensure that future government surveillance is both transparent and accountable …  Read more

Belkin and Google debut USB-C cables, including low-priced Ethernet, DisplayPort, HDMI and micro-USB adapters

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Coinciding with today’s announcement of the dual USB-C port-equipped Chromebook Pixel 2 laptop, Google and Belkin today announced separate collections of new USB-C cables and adapters. These new options go well beyond Apple’s upcoming USB-C accessory lineup for the 12″ MacBook, while also including some familiar options at lower-than-Apple prices. They’re amongst the first USB-C accessories to be announced by major manufacturers, as inexpensive USB-C cables from smaller companies are beginning to make their way onto Amazon for pre-order…

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Apple Watch predicted to take 55% of the 2015 global smartwatch market with 15.4M units shipped

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Research firm Strategy Analytics released its latest report today forecasting global Apple Watch sales and smartwatch marketshare for 2015. The firm’s predictions put Apple’s anticipated global smartwatch marketshare at more than half with 54.8% reached in 2015. Notably, that forecasted percentage is versus all other smartwatches combined competing with the Apple Watch.

While the report predicts that Apple will take the overwhelming majority of smartwatch sales this year, it predicts a relatively conservative number of units shipped globally in 2015 at 15.4 million. That forecast still beats the collective “other” group with a 12.7 million units shipped globally predicted.

To be clear, the firm is predicting that the as-of-yet unreleased Apple Watch will outsell the existing smartwatch market in 2015…

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Google said to be planning iOS support for Android Wear, could debut at I/O conference

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Last month a developer managed to hack together a solution that enabled iPhone users to see their notifications on Google’s Android-powered wearable operating system, but at the moment there is no official way to use the two competing platforms together. That could change at Google’s annual I/O conference later this year, if new rumors are to be believed.

According to French tech blog 01Net, Google is developing an update to Android Wear that would enable it work with Apple’s iOS devices…

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Google Maps for iOS adds POI quick facts, upcoming events for select venues, more

Google is packing even more useful information into the latest version of its Maps app for iOS. Google Maps 4.3.0 for iPhone and iPad adds several contextual data points to locations like nearby businesses for address searches, quick facts for notable locations, and even event information for select venues. Read more