Chrome for Mac will soon require Chrome Web Store distribution for extensions to prevent malware

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Back in May of last year, Google started enforcing a policy that requires Chrome extensions be hosted on its Chrome Web Store, but only on Windows. The goal was to prevent malware hidden in extensions installable from outside its store, and it even started disabling extensions already installed on users’ systems that weren’t hosted on the Chrome Web Store. Now, Google says it will bring that requirement to Mac Chrome users over the coming months, as well as the Chrome developer channel for Windows that wasn’t previously enforcing the policy: Read more

New Greenpeace report praises Apple for aggressively leading in renewable energy initiatives

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Greenpeace today released an update to its “Clicking Clean: A Guide to Building the Green Internet” report, showing that Apple continues to lead among tech companies when it comes to renewable energy efforts. The report notes that Apple has been “most aggressive” with its renewable energy projects including a number of new initiatives and continuing to maintain “its claim of a 100% renewably powered cloud for another year.” Read more

Apple releases iOS 8.4 beta 3 with revamped Music app ahead of late June launch

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Apple today released the third beta of iOS 8.4 to developers, labeled build 12H4098c. The update is available via Software Update on iOS and it should be hitting the developer center soon. The second Public Beta is available as well for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Xcode 6.4 beta 3 is also available. As with the first pair of betas, iOS 8.4 brings a revamped Music application with a new design, Up Next functionality, a Mini Player, and a new version of iTunes Radio. As we’ve reported several times, iOS 8.4’s Music app will also be home to Apple’s upcoming Beats-based streaming music service. Sources say that the new service will be announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on June 8th alongside iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, and it will launch publicly in several countries alongside the new iTunes Radio in late June.

Below, we list the changes in this new beta:

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iPhone slightly increases lead as most popular smartphone in US – comScore

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Apple has further increased its lead as the top smartphone manufacturer in the US, the iPhone increasing its market share by one point from 41.6% in Dec 2014 to 42.6% in March 2015, according to comScore. There was no change in the rankings, with Samsung in second place at 28.3% – a fall of 1.4% – followed by LG, Motorola and HTC.

Android remained the most popular platform, with 52.4% of the market against iOS at 42.6%. Windows, Blackberry and Symbian were all also-rans, totalling just 5% between them.

comScore also reported the top 15 smartphone apps …  Read more

Fitbit warns against highly competitive factors like Apple Watch in IPO filing

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Earlier today, fitness tracker hardware and software company Fitbit filed to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. Since the regulatory filing went public, observers have been scouring the paperwork for information on Fitbit’s financials, sales numbers, and notes about the competition. The Financial Times‘s Tim Bradshaw noticed that that Fitbit cites Apple and the recently-launched Apple Watch as the top billed competitor in the IPO Risk Factors section:

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Google ending YouTube support on older Apple TVs, iPhones, iPads, & iPod touches

Google announced yesterday that it will be ending support for its YouTube Data API v2 used by older devices. For Apple users, this means the YouTube app will no longer work on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches running iOS 6 or earlier; users instead will have to rely on the mobile web version of YouTube at m.youtube.com going forward.

The change also affects some Apple TV users, as only the current 3rd-generation 1080p Apple TV supports YouTube’s overhauled channel; prior-generation models will entirely lose access to YouTube… Read more

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