Apple Music hits 20 million paying subscribers

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Apple Music has hit an important milestone. The service now has more than 20 million subscribers, Billboard reported Tuesday. 

This is a 15% increase from September, when Apple said the service had 17 million paying customers. 

Apple’s SVP of internet software and products, Eddy Cue, told Billboard that 60 percent of Apple Music users have not bought any content from the iTunes Music Store in the last 12 months. 

Cue also touted Apple’s partnership with Chance the Rapper, whose Apple Music-exclusive album Coloring Book performed well on the Billboard charts.  Read more…

More about Apple Music, Apple, Tech, Music, and Apps Software

Android app updates will get drastically smaller, again

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Updating apps on your mobile device isn’t just a matter of a few seconds anymore; with apps (games, especially) steadily rising in size, a larger set of updates can easily grow into gigabytes of data and many minutes of downloading. 

Google addressed the issue earlier this year by switching to a new compression algorithm, which the company says reduced the size of app updates by 47 percent on average. 

Now, the company has made even bigger progress by using an app updating technique called File-by-File patching which makes app updates 65 percent smaller on average compared with the full app.

More about Apps, Android, Tech, Apps Software, and Mobile

Facebook is asking users to identify ‘misleading’ stories

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Mark Zuckerberg may insist that Facebook doesn’t have a serious fake news problem, but his company is apparently taking steps to identify misleading stories. 

Some Facebook users tweeted Monday that they received surveys from the site asking them to identify whether certain headlines are misleading. 

Chris Krewson, the editor of Philadelphia news outlet Billy Penn, noticed the query under a Philadelphia Inquirer article. It asked him to identify to what extent the link’s title uses “misleading language,” with options ranging from “not at all” to “completely.”

Facebook is asking whether this @PhillyInquirer headline is fake? pic.twitter.com/cCUpwtvQlS

— Chris Krewson (@ckrewson) December 5, 2016 Read more…

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Apple’s new iPhone 7 ad features the cutest Romeo and Juliet production ever

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If you capture an important moment on video with an iPhone 7, you won’t be sorry you didn’t bring a real camera — that’s the message Apple is sending in its latest iPhone 7 ad, launched Monday. 

The ad, above, shows two kids acting out a scene out of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in a realistic setting. But as the scene unfolds, we realize that it’s all happening on stage, instead. 

The ad ends with the tagline:Your movies look like movies on iPhone 7.”

Do they, really? You can check out our review of the iPhone 7’s camera here — the phone carries a 12-megapixel shooter with optical image stabilization, and it’s definitely one of the best cameras around, especially in low-light settings (as depicted in the ad).  Read more…

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Apple, which doesn’t reveal Watch sales data, says Watch sales are great

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Apple Watch sales growth is “off the charts” this holiday season, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook. 

“During the first week of holiday shopping, our sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product’s history. And as we expected, we’re on track for the best quarter ever for Apple Watch,” Cook told Reuters in an email. 

Cook stopped short of actually revealing any sales figures for the Watch, which was upgraded to “Series 2” in September, alongside a new Nike-branded, sports-centric variant. 

This is not surprising: The company has never revealed any sales data for the Watch, bundling it with the “other products” category in its earnings reports. There have been quite a few attempts to extrapolate what this means in numbers, but the truth is that any of those attempts could be a few million units wrong either way.  Read more…

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Samsung cut it too close with safety margins on the Note7’s design, report says

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More than two months after the launch of ill-fated Note7, we still don’t know what caused the batteries in some of the devices to overheat and, in some cases, explode. 

A new report by Instrumental, a company that helps tech companies fix manufacturing issues, suggests that the reason behind the Note7 issues was Samsung pushing the boundaries of the design a little too far. 

More precisely, Instrumental — after tearing down and examining a Note7 — found that the Note7’s battery sits too tightly within the device, so that pressure from normal operation (such as sitting down while having the phone in your back pocket) can cause layers of lithium cobalt oxide and graphite to touch. This should never happen, as it can cause overheating and an explosion.  Read more…

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Microsoft’s Home Hub aims to turn the PC into an Amazon Echo

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It has been rumored for some time that Microsoft wants to join the smart home speaker space with a device called Home Hub. 

A new report has a lot more details, and while it still sounds like a competitor to Amazon’s smart speaker Echo and Google Home, it’s different in one key detail: it’s software, not hardware. 

According to Windows Central, which quotes multiple unnamed sources, Home Hub is a software update for Windows 10 that will make the Windows PC a bit more like a smart speaker. 

What Home Hub would do 

Microsoft’s smart digital assistant Cortana can already answer your queries, even if the PC’s screen is locked. The Home Hub is tied to Cortana and takes this a few steps further. It would add a special app with features such as calendar appointments, sticky notes and shopping lists.  Read more…

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Stop using that cheap Apple charger

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A third-party charger for Apple gadgets may be a lot cheaper than the ones hanging off shelves at the Apple Store, but a vast majority of those chargers aren’t safe, a new study has concluded.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), a UK association representing trading standards professionals, has tested 400 counterfeit chargers for Apple products, the BBC reported Friday. The result was pitiful: Only three chargers were insulated well enough to protect against electric shocks. 

Another test targeted second-hand goods in local shops, and found that 15% of 3,019 electrical goods were non-compliant with UK standards. Considering the potential danger, a counterfeit charger could cost you your home or even your life. Read more…

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Motorola gives up on smartwatches, for now

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Motorola’s Moto 360 was the first Android Wear smartwatch with a circular design — a trait later taken up by most Android smartwatches — pushing the company to the forefront of the wearables market. However, it now appears we won’t see a new smartwatch under the Moto brand anytime soon. 

Lenovo, the parent company of Motorola, told The Verge that it’s not planning to release a Moto smartwatch in time for the next major version of Google’s smartwatch platform, Android Wear 2. 

According to Shakil Barkat, head of global product development at Moto, the company doesn’t “see enough pull in the market” to launch a new smartwatch. He did leave open the possibility of a Moto smartwatch at a later date, saying that customers might eventually start valuing gadgets on their wrists more than they do today.  Read more…

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Nokia Android phones are coming early next year

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Fallen mobile phone giant Nokia is about to (attempt to) rise again next year with new phones — this time based on Android. 

The plan has been known for a while, but it’s now official, as the company itself confirmed it in a press release Thursday. 

The new Nokias will be manufactured by Foxconn subsidiary FIH Mobile and sold by a Finnish company called HMD Global, which will have an exclusive global license for the Nokia brand for the next ten years.

The story of the new, new Nokia is somewhat complex, so here’s a little background: Microsoft bought Nokia’s struggling mobile phone division in 2013 for $7.2 billion but it ditched the Nokia brand the following year, instead calling its mobile phones Microsoft Lumia.  Read more…

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