Apple said to be working on ‘mainstream’ Smart Home hardware

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With iPhones in pockets, Macs on desks, iPads in bags, and iWatches soon coming to the wrist, Apple is said to be eyeing another category for continued growth: Smart Home hardware. The Cupertino-company is said to have assembled a team to work on various hardware products for the home that deeply integrate with the existing array of Apple devices on the market…

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Why won’t Microsoft give iOS users access to their Skype voice messages? (Updated)

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Skype may have recently launched a major update to its Skype for iPhone app, but one rather basic feature went missing – the ability to listen to voice messages. A subsequent update to Skype for iPhone 5.1 still hasn’t fixed the problem.

In a support thread on the Skype site, community manager Claudius provided what must qualify as one of the most unhelpful response ever to complaints by users:

Voice message playback is not supported in Skype 5.0 for iPhone. Please use Skype on another platform to listen to your voice messages …

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Significant enhancements coming to AppleCare+, Apple IDs, iOS support

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Apple’s vice president of AppleCare and technical support initiatives, Tara Bunch, held a Town Hall meeting for for AppleCare employees earlier this week, according to several employees in attendance who asked to remain anonymous. During the meeting, Bunch, along with a few other Apple executives, spoke about Apple’s progress in customer service and support over the past few years, improvements from 2013 to 2014, and future plans.

Throughout the meeting, Bunch noted that customer satisfaction numbers from AppleCare and Apple product users are at the top of the industry. Going into the 15th year of AppleCare, Bunch asked employees to celebrate and be proud of their accomplishments, but she also noted that Apple still has room to improve its support practices. Employees in attendance during the meeting have shared some details regarding Apple’s future plans for its support initiatives…

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Apple TV likely to gain Continuity this fall, allowing tighter integration with Mac & iOS

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Alongside the introduction of the current Apple TV design in fall 2010, Apple launched AirPlay. In short, AirPlay allows a user to watch a movie, listen to a song, or view a photo on an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch (or Mac in some cases) and stream that content to the Apple TV. AirPlay typically works well and we have even considered it a major innovation in the living room appliances space. Apple has continued to enhance AirPlay over the past few years, allowing the service to integrate with iTunes in the Cloud and function without a WiFi connection.

With OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, Apple has taken the AirPlay idea to new levels. This fall, as Apple previewed at WWDC earlier this month, a user can begin writing an email, viewing a webpage, or sending a text message on one Apple device, and then walk up to a different Apple product and continue that action. This feature is called Handoff and is part of a new suite of features called Continuity. Unlike AirPlay, a click to stream the content is not necessary.

Now, users running the latest iOS, OS X, and Apple TV betas are reporting that Apple could also be working on Handoff and Continuity features for the Apple TV set-top box…

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Mac $400 Bundle for $10: Fantastical, Gemini, Flux 4, PathFinder 6, Tunes cleaner, DVD Ripper, more

From 9to5Toys.com Specials

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Update: The price has risen to almost $10, still time to get in early…

Stacksocial is offering an impressive array of apps at a “name your own price” starting at just over $1 and growing quickly (so get in quick!).

One of our favorite calendar apps, Fantastical from Flexibits ($20) headlines the group this time around with 10 solid apps total:

Path Finder 6: Access & Manage Your Files In A Flash
Fantastical: The Mac Calendar You’ll Actually Enjoy Using
Flux 4: Powerful Mac Web Design Made Easy
Gemini: The Duplicate Finder – Mac App Store Best of 2012
Logoist: Develop Professional Quality Images With Ease
Tunes Cleaner: Delete Duplicate Songs & Revitalize Your iTunes Music Library
MacX iPhone DVD Ripper: Rip Any DVD to Your iPhone, iPad & Other Apple Devices
DiscLabel: One Step To Professional-Looking Labels
SyncMate Expert 5: Sync All of Your Devices & Online Accounts Right to Your Mac
Tangerine! Create Amazing Playlists For Any Situation Or Activity

Some proceeds from the bundle go to charity of your choice and high bidders are entered to win a free MacBook Air.

Again, for $10 a buck or two, this is a no brainer. Get there soon, the prices rise the longer you waitRead more

How-to: Unofficial tool allows you to import iTunes and Rdio Playlists to Beats Music

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While Beats Music will soon be owned by Apple, the music service does not easily integrate with iTunes. For instance, there is no official Beats tool to link your iTunes library for streaming from Beats Music. However, an unofficial tool called Beats Importer is a temporary solution that seems to work well for adding iTunes and Rdio Playlists to your Beats Music library. We’ve compiled a tutorial for importing your iTunes Playlists to Beats Music, below:

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Apple now stores ‘every photo you take on all of your devices’ with new Photos app

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With iOS 8, Apple will now backup of all your photos. The limitations of Photo Stream seem to have gone away. Apple will now store all of your photos in iCloud, regardless of what device you take them on. iPhones and iPads can view these entire libraries, without having to download them to local storage. The photos stream in as you scroll.

Storage is only limited by your iCloud Storage. Apple has announced new cheaper storage plans to go along with the new philosophy.

Apple is also adding a whole host of color and other editing features into the Photos app. This includes things like color correction, brightness, cropping and more. These edits automatically sync across devices.

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WWDC 2014 Roundup: Enhanced iOS 8, redesigned OS X 10.10, new hardware (plus fresh details)

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Despite Apple CEO Tim Cook teasing that Apple would introduce new products “across 2014,” so far this year the company has simply released a cheaper version of the iPhone 5c in select markets, marginally faster MacBook Airs, and the 2012 fourth-generation iPad at a lower price.

But on Monday, June 2nd, Apple will make major announcements that will indicate the immediate future of its two major platforms: iOS and OS X. The Cupertino company will share details behind the changes in iOS 8, a redesigned Mac operating system, and perhaps even new hardware.

Over the past several months, we have exclusively reported the majority of the news to expect next week and you can find our extensive roundup (along with new details) below:

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Report: Apple planning to introduce locally targeted ads, additional non-music content to iTunes Radio

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(Image via Apple)

According to a new report from The Information, Apple is planning to offer “locally targeted advertising” to users through its iTunes Radio platform sometime this year. The report also says Apple is planning on working with “broadcast radio stations” to increase the amount of content it offers on the platform. This additional content would focus on non-music offerings that would further expand Apple’s content streaming platform. Earlier this week, 9to5Mac reported that Apple is planning to introduce several local NPR stations as well as sports content from ESPN to iTunes Radio… Read more

Apple discussing iPhone payments service with high-profile retail brands

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Apple wants to replace yet another daily tool with your iPhone: your wallet.

Executives from the Cupertino-based technology company have begun discussions with directors from retail store chains about a mobile payments service, according to a source with direct knowledge of the talks. Previous reports indicated that Apple is exploring new payments services through discussions with executives from existing payments companies. These latest mobile payments-related discussions, which have occurred with retail store brands such as those that sell luxury clothing and premium goods, have taken place over the past couple of months, according to the source. The source declined to be named and requested that the identities of the companies talking to Apple not be published.

The Apple mobile payments service would be integrated into iOS Devices such as the iPhone and would be a comprehensive solution that would allow an iPhone user to leverage their device as a form of payment in retail stores. Based on information from various people briefed on the matter, the service would tie directly to iTunes accounts. Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue noted last night that Apple has 800 million iTunes accounts with credit cards, and that this arsenal opens up the door for many future products and services. Apple CEO Tim Cook previously hinted that the iPhone’s Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor could someday be leveraged for mobile payment purposes beyond the existing iTunes and App Stores…

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Cue praises Beats curated playlists and headphones; Iovine disses Apple’s EarPods

Eddy Cue, Jimmy Iovine, Apple, Beats Music, Code Conference(Image via Re/code)

It’s typical in any acquisition for both parties to sing the praises of their new partner, and Eddy Cue was certainly playing his part at Re/code’s Code Conference, saying that Beats’ curated playlists were a key strength and would help music grow again. As Mark Gurman reported in his live blog coverage at Code Conference:

Cue said Apple bought Beats because “music is dying. It hasn’t been growing.” He said combining the two companies will help it grow again [...]

Cue said what makes Beats good is that it provides users with curated playlists.

He said: “When you bring what Beats has got and what we’ve got it’s not two plus two is four. It’s something much more than that” …

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