The Tech News Blog

November 14, 2014

Beats, Apple Launch Solo2 Wireless Headphones

Beats Solo2 Wireless Beats by Dr. Dre today expanded its wireless lineup with the launch of the Solo2 Wireless on-ear headphones.

Solo2 Wireless features the same sound and design as the original Solo2, but without the hassle of being tethered to your device.

Using Bluetooth, the Solo2 Wireless can connect to a smartphone, tablet, computer, or boombox from up to up to 30 feet away. But they also allow the wearer to take calls, skip songs, and change the volume on the headphones' ear cup.

A rechargeable battery also promises up to 12 hours of wireless playback. Once the headphones run out of juice, just plug in the provided RemoteTalk cable, and continue jamming out.

"We're taking the most popular headphone in the world and adding wireless Bluetooth functionality to it," Beats president Luke Wood said in a statement. "The Solo2 is already a world-class headphone much lauded for its acoustics, and now it joins our growing family of successful wireless products."

November 14, 2014

Xbox One Shipments Near 10 Million

Xbox Chief Phil Spencer at E3 2014

Microsoft is quickly closing in on 10 million Xbox One consoles shipped, thanks to a series of new games and a recent price cut.

"The past few weeks have been incredibly exciting," chief marketing officer Yusuf Mehdi wrote in a blog post. "We are humbled by the positive response to our new offerings and grateful for the support from our fans."

This month's $50 holiday discount—which dropped the console price to $349—kicked off Redmond's holiday offerings, which continued on Tuesday with the launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Also relatively new to the Xbox One family: Assassin's Creed: Unity, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Sunset Overdrive, Forza Horizon 2 , Ori and the Blind Forest, and Madden NFL 15, among others.

November 12, 2014

Apple to Face Lawsuit Over iMessage Bug

iMessageApple will be forced to face a U.S. federal lawsuit after failing to tell consumers that their text messages could be stuck in purgatory if they ditched their iPhone in favor of a smartphone on another platform.

Reports of the so-called "iMessage purgatory" issue have persisted for months, but made headlines in May when a California woman, Adrienne Moore, sued over the issue after switching to a Samsung Galaxy S5 from an iPhone 4. Apple sought to have the case thrown out, but Cupertino wasn't so lucky.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh on Monday said that Apple must face Moore's claim that the message blocking interfered with her Verizon Wireless contract. Moore is seeking class-action status and unspecific damages.

Apple's iMessage is a convenient way to chat with other iOS users without eating into your monthly text allotment. But if you ditch your iPhone for a smartphone on another platform, and do not switch off iMessage, your messages will be delivered to your old iPhone, even if it's no longer in use.

Moore claims Apple failed to mention that its messaging system would block the delivery of messages from other iPhone users after switching to a non-Apple device.

The legal setback comes after Apple over the weekend finally released a tool to help those whose messages were stuck in iMessage purgatory. Apple's online tool lets you deregister iMessage on your old phone.

On Apple's new website, enter the phone number you want to deregister from iMessage and Apple will send a confirmation code to your current device. When you get that code, enter it on Apple's website, and Cupertino will deregister it.

November 11, 2014

Best Buy Black Friday Deals Previewed

Best Buy Black Friday Like other big box retailers, Best Buy doesn't mess around on Black Friday.

A day after Target tipped details of its 2014 Black Friday promotion, Best Buy has followed suit, announcing deals on iPads, TVs, Beats headphones, GoPro cameras, and other hot gadgets.

More than 1,000 Best Buy stores in 47 states will officially open their doors to holiday deal hunters on Thanksgiving Day at 5 p.m. local time. Nearly all the stores will stay open until 1 a.m. on Black Friday (Nov. 28).

Stores will then re-open at 8 a.m. local time on Black Friday and close at 10 p.m. that day. The electronics retailer will begin selling "doorbuster" deals at 5 p.m. on Thursday before offering a second set of different doorbusers at 8 a.m. on Friday.

"Customers have already begun lining up outside of some Best Buy stores in preparation," the company said in a news release.

Best Buy's Black Friday deals include:

  • A Best Buy exclusive Samsung 55-inch LED Ultra HD Smart TV for $899.99.
  • Panasonic 50-inch LED 1080p HDTV for $199.99, a Best Buy exclusive
  • $100 off on all iPad Air 2 models
  • Beats Solo headphones for $79.99, a savings of $90
  • GoPro Hero3+ Silver Edition action camera for $249.99, a $50 savings
  • Nest Learning Thermostat for $199.99, a savings of $50
  • The Dyson DC44 origin cordless stick bagless vacuum for $219.99, $180 off the regular price of $399.99.
  • Select PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games will be 50 percent off and available for $29.99, including NBA 2K15, Madden 15, and FIFA 15

Note that Best Buy stores in Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island will not open until Black Friday because of laws in those states. Stores in Maine will open at 12:01 a.m. on Black Friday, while those in Massachusetts and Rhode Island will open at 1 a.m.

If you don't feel like braving the crowds, Best Buy will also be running online-only doorbusters all day on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Meanwhile, Target is also running Black Friday deals on some of this season's hottest gadgets, including the Apple iPad, Microsoft Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 4, and GoPro Hero 3+.

November 9, 2014

Microsoft Offering Prorated Refunds for Office 365 Subscriptions

Microsoft Office 365 and Office 2013 Free is great, right? There's no reason to not celebrate Microsoft's recent announcement that it would be allowing iOS Office users to create and edit documents for absolutely free—no Office 365 subscription required, as was previously the case.

However, there's one subset of users who likely weren't too thrilled with Microsoft's move. Specifically, those who had already paid for Office 365 subscriptions to unlock said functionality prior to Microsoft's announcement.

The most inexpensive iteration of Office 365 isn't all that cheap at $7 monthly (or $70 annually)—or, to phrase it another way, why spend the cash if you don't have to? We can definitely envision a few miffed users who were probably caught up in a bit of unfortunate timing.

Well, thankfully, Microsoft recognizes that some of its Office 365 purchasers might be regretting their decision days (or months) after the fact. The company is now offering refunds to anyone who might be affected. However, you'll have to jump through a few hoops.

For starters, you have to apply for said refund. It won't just appear automatically. Second, the refund offer only applies to those who purchased Home or Personal subscriptions to Office 365; business subscriptions are out of luck.

November 9, 2014

Fitbit Devices Yanked From Apple’s Online Store

Fibit Surge

After removing Bose products from its online store last month, Apple has now dropped another brand — Fitbit.

On the Apple Online Store, you'll see a range of fitness-tracking devices from Nike, Jawbone, and Mio, among others, but nothing from Fitbit anymore. Apple previously sold the Fitbit Flex and several of the company's other fitness tracking devices.

The move comes after Re/Code last month reported Apple was planning to remove Fitbit devices from its stores to make room for its own Apple Watch wearable. Now it's actually happened.

Apple's new wearable is scheduled to launch in spring 2015, starting at $349. You can choose from three versions, which have different bands: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition. The Apple Watch Sport version will likely target other fitness-tracking wearables on the market, like the Fitbit, though the $349 price point puts it at the high end of the market.

As 9to5Mac points out, some Apple retail locations still have Fitbit devices for sale, but don't expect it to stay that way for long.

But why pull Fitbit but not Jawbone? One reason, 9to5Mac noted, could be that Fitbit has no plans to support Cupertino's new iOS 8 Health app, which pulls together all your health and fitness data into a comprehensive dashboard. Jawbone is among those that support the new app.

Fitbit isn't the first company Apple has given the boot. In the wake of its Beats acquisition, Cupertino last month removed all Bose products from its stores and website, including the SoundLink Mini and QuietComfort headphones.

For Fitbit fans, the company has three upcoming devices. The Fitbit Charge is a wrist-worn activity tracker, the Charge HR adds an optical heart rate monitor, and the Fitbit Surge is a GPS-enabled runner's watch that also measure the user's daily activities. The Charge is on sale now, while the Charge HR and Surge are expected next year.

November 9, 2014

Home Depot Hackers Nab 53 Million Email Addresses

Home Depot Logo/Public DomainHome Depot on Friday disclosed additional details of the breach we first heard about earlier this year, revealing that the hackers also accessed files containing 53 million email addresses.

These files did not contain passwords, payment card information, or other sensitive personal information, Home Depot said. The company is now in the process of notifying affected customers, who can sign up for free identity protection and credit monitoring services at Home Depot's expense.

Home Depot in September first acknowledged that attackers had compromised the point-of-sale terminals used at its self-checkout counters, and stole 56 million unique payment card numbers.

Affected individuals should be on guard against phishing scams, which are designed to trick you into handing over your personal information in response to phony emails.

Home Depot said the hackers somehow obtained a third-party vendor's username and password, and used those credentials to enter its network. The stolen credentials alone did not, however, provide direct access to the Home Depot's point-of-sale devices.

November 6, 2014

Editing, Creating Docs Now Free on Office for iPhone, iPad

Microsoft Office 365

Christmas is coming early for iOS Office users, who can now create and edit documents for free on their iPhone or iPad—without an Office 365 subscription.

Microsoft also announced an Office for Android tablet preview, and tipped touch-optimized Office apps for Windows 10.

"Starting today, people can create and edit Office content on iPhones, iPads, and soon, Android tablets using Office apps without an Office 365 subscription," the company said in a blog post.

Office for iPhone was previously available as one app (Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers), but separate iPhone apps for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are now available to download in the iTunes App Store, as is an updated version of Office for iPad, all of which require iOS 7.0 or later.

Microsoft also kicked off its Office for Android tablet preview, open now for signups, and expected for general availability early next year.

November 5, 2014

Report: Samsung Going Back to Drawing Board for Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S5Now that Samsung has released all its flagship handsets for this year, we can turn our attention to what's on tap in 2015; namely, the Galaxy S6.

According to Sammobile, Samsung is currently in the early stages of developing the S6, codenamed "Project Zero." In the past, the Korean tech gaint has always used generic letters as codenames for its flagship devices: the Galaxy S4 was "Project J," the Galaxy Note 3 was "Project H," and the Galaxy S5 was "Project K," for example

The fancy new codename may suggest that Samsung is giving the S6 special treatment. Sammobile's sources claim that Samsung is "probably" developing the S6 from the ground up "with an entirely new vision."

Note that there were rumors that the Galaxy S5 would be built from scratch, too, but as it turns out, the phone was not much different than its predecessor, the S4. But that was before Samsung started losing ground to its mobile rivals, namely Apple and its new iPhone 6 lineup.

November 5, 2014

Jawbone Unveils UP Move, UP3 Trackers

Jawbone UP Move

Jawbone has two new wearable fitness trackers: the UP Move and UP3.

The $50 UP Move (pictured) tracks daily steps, exercise, and calories burned, as well as hours and quality of sleep. Plus, it comes with a clip accessory to snap onto a pocket, sports bra, belt loop, or other inconspicuous spots.

"People are clearly seeing real and tangible benefits from the UP system, and we want to expand those benefits to the widest possible audience," Jawbone project management head Danny Carvajal wrote in a blog post. "With UP Move we are bringing a simple, yet savvy, fitness tracker within reach of everyone with a great price and some fantastic accessories."

Users can tap into Jawbone's UP mobile app, but will also gain access to the new Smart Coach system, which Carvajal called "a partner in fitness."

The intelligent instructor "helps guide you to healthier choices each and every day," he said. Smart Coach learns your habits—good and bad—to serve as a digital motivator and personal trainer.