All posts by Joseph Keller

Skype offers free calls to France after violence in Paris

In addition to cellular carriers waiving fees for international calls, Skype has announced that it will be making calls to landlines and mobile phones in France free for a few days. This move follows attacks that took place in Paris on Friday night.

From Skype:

In light of the devastating events that have taken place in Paris, we want to help people stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues. So, with immediate effect we are making all domestic and international calls to landlines and mobiles in France free of charge* for the next few days.

This offer is not extended to calls made to premium services or to non-French phone numbers inside France.

Source: Skype

Sprint, Verizon offer free calls to France following attacks in Paris

Following Friday's attacks in Paris, both Sprint and Verizon are helping customers stay in touch with friends and family in France, in many cases waiving their fees for SMS and international calls placed to France.

Sprint is waiving its international long distance, roaming, and SMS charges until a later date, at this time still undetermined. This waiver applies to all Sprint, Boost, and Virigin Mobile customers.

Verizon customer will also allow customers to text and call internationally to France for free. Additionally, home telephone customers will also get free international long distance to France from their landlines. The offer to both cellular and landline customers is available through November 15.

Source: Sprint, Verizon

Tim Cook reaffirms Apple’s commitment to inclusivity following Melbourne Apple Store incident

Apple Stores will be refreshing their training on customer inclusion following an incident at an Apple Store in Melbourne, Australia earlier this week. The incident saw three black students barred from the Highpoint Apple Store because a store employee thought "they might steal something". Now Apple CEO Tim Cook has weighed in, calling the treatment of the students "unacceptable", saying the incident doesn't reflect the values of Apple.

According to a company email obtained by Buzzfeed, store managers across the world will refresh themselves on Apple's policy on inclusion.

While I firmly believe that this was an isolated incident rather than a symptom of a broader problem in our stores, we will use this moment as an opportunity to learn and grow. Our store leadership teams around the world, starting in Australia, will be refreshing their training on inclusion and customer engagement. These are concepts and practices they know well, but can always stand to reinforce.

Following the incident, a senior manager at the Highpoint store apologized to the young men, saying that they would always be welcome at the store.

Source: Buzzfeed

iPad Pro supports USB 3.0, but you’ll need an adapter

While all previous iPhones and iPads have supported wired data transfer over 30-pin or Lightning connectors at USB 2 speeds, the newly-released iPad Pro is apparently capable of more. During its recent teardown of Apple's latest tablet, iFixit discovered a USB 3.0 controller on the Pro's logic board.

Additionally, there will apparently be adapters to allow data transfer at the higher USB 3.0 speeds, though a timeframe has not yet been established, according to Jeff Carlson:

I just confirmed with a source at Apple that there are forthcoming adapters that take advantage of the USB 3 speeds, but they aren't yet confirming when they will ship. That's bare-bones Apple-ese for "Yep, and you'll find out more when we're ready."

USB 3.0 has a maximum transfer rate of 5Gbps, about ten times faster than the maximum transfer speed of USB 2.0. Whether the iPad Pro will be able to take advantage of USB 3.0's full potential remains to be seen, but it's nice to see that Apple is making progress in this area.

Source: iFixit, Jeff Carlson; Via: MacRumors

New music on iTunes: New albums from One Direction and Justin Bieber, R&B deals, pre-orders for Lake Street Dive

Every Friday, the iTunes Store adds new music to its lineup. This week, we've got albums from One Direction and Justin Bieber, deals on R&B albums, and pre-orders for Lake Street Dive.

This week in new music, we start with Made in the A.M., the latest album from One Direction. Justin Bieber has also released his latest effort, Purpose. Alessia Cara's debut album, Know-It-All is also available now. You can also get Jeezy's new album, Church in These Streets.

This week's iTunes music deals offer discounts on R&B albums. For $5.99 each, you can get albums from artists like Usher, Lionel Richie, Roberta Flack, and Andra Day.

Pre-orders this week start off with Side Pony, the new album from Lake Street Dive, due out February 19, 2016. Also up for order is Untamed, the new album from Cam, arriving December 11, 2015. Finally, you can order 68 and Douglas, a new EP from Fern, coming December 4.

Check back next week for more great music from the iTunes Store.

What’s new on the App Store: iMaschine 2, role-playing games, apps for basketball

Each week, the App Store highlights some of the best new and updated apps. This week, we have a iMaschine 2, new role-playing games, and apps for the basketball season.

This week, our new apps start off musically with iMaschine 2, the versatile beat machine from Native Instruments. The United Nations wants you to help feed hungry children with its new app Share the Meal. Giffage is a new keyboard that makes it easy to share GIFs with your friends. Finally, Replay Video Editor has received a major update with a new look, new styles, and Live Photo support.

New games this week start off with Zodiac: Orcanon Odyssey, the first installment in a new JRPG series. You can also check out Tiny Rogue, a new 8-bit-style rogue-like dungeon crawler. There's a big update to The Last Viking, which adds the ability to evolve your heroes. Finally, This War of Mine has been updated, and is now universal and available for phones.

Basketball fans, Apple has highlighted a collection of apps just for you. To go along with the new basketball season, Apple has collected apps and games that celebrate the sport. There are apps to keep up with leagues, like the NBA app, and you can track your favorite teams from the Eastern or Western conferences with individual team apps. You can also play virtual basketball with games like NBA 2K16.

Check back next week for more new apps and games from the App Store, and remember to check out this week's Free App of the Week.

Hearthstone’s League of Explorers expansion is now available

Hearthstone's latest single player adventure, League of Explorers, is now available. The popular battle card game from Blizzard has added new, treasure-filled areas, features like class challenges, and of course, new cards.

To recap, League of Explorers features 45 new cards. It contains four new wings full of danger, including traps, bosses and more, which will allow you to earn new cards. Clearing all of a wing's challenges for the first time will see you rewarded with that wing's legendary card, such as Elise Starseeker.

Class challenges are also new in League of Explorers. Each of the nine classes gets their own set of challenges, which you will need to complete using a pre-made deck which will help you prove your skill with a particular class. There will also be new game boards, and the new Discover keyword helps you find the cards in your collection that will help you the most. Finally, Heroic Mode will put a Heroic modifier on any challenge you've cleared, increasing its difficulty.

You can grab Hearthstone from the App Store right now.

Facebook’s 360-degree videos arrive on iPhone and iPad

Facebook has begun rolling out 360-degree videos for users on iPhone and iPad, following their initial rollout on Android back in September.

These videos allow you to move your device around to change your view of a particular scene. So, if a video is shot in a car's passenger seat for instance, point the phone next to you to see the driver, or behind you to see other passengers. Look up to see the sky, all while the video plays. You can also drag your finger around the screen to change angles.

Facebook is also opening these videos up to advertisers, including AT&T, Corona, and the Walt Disney Company. Videos shot in 360 degrees will be marked as such in your news feed, and you need to do is hit play.

You might find that 360-degree video is not yet available in your feed, and you might need to give them some time before they start showing up.

Via: TechCrunch

Microsoft Hyperlapse Pro helps you create smooth time lapse videos

Microsoft has released a new app for OS X for creating timelapse videos. Hyperlapse Pro works with most video cameras, from GoPros to drones, and helps you build a smooth, stable video experience.

Hyperlapse Pro features multiple options for speeding up your videos, a step-by-step workflow for easy learning, and more. Check out the list below for the app's major features:

  • Hyperlapse Pro can take video from any camera and create a time lapse with a smoothly moving camera.
  • It works especially well with wide field of view action camera videos, such as GoPro.
  • Supports different speed up factors from 1x to 25x.
  • Hyperlapses can be output at different resolutions and framerates.
  • Takes advantage of multi-core CPUs and high-end GPUs for better processing speeds.
  • A step-by-step user interface makes it easier than ever to create hyperlpases.

Hyperlapse Pro requires OS X Yosemite or OS X El Capitan. You'll also need 4GB of RAM, though longer or higher-quality videos could require more RAM. For faster performance, you'll need a graphics processor with support for OpenGL 2.0 or newer.

You can try Hyperlapse Pro for free, though a watermark will be placed on your videos until pay $49.99 for a license.

Podcast app Castro goes free, adds support for Spotlight search and 3D Touch

Podcast app Castro has hit version 1.5 with support for a number of features in iOS 9 and the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Additionally, Castro is now free to download and use, moving to a patronage model to fund continued development.

Castro users on iOS 9 will now be able to take advantage of Spotlight search, allowing them to find podcast episodes without opening the app. 3D Touch is also supported, with icon quick actions including quick play and pause, starting a sleep timer, and more. The app also lets you peek and pop shows and episodes with 3D Touch.

The app has also implemented iOS 9's Safari View Controller for in-app web views. Castro has improved its URL scheme support, with commands for playing a random episode, as well as activating the sleep timer.

Finally, Castro is now free to download and use from the App Store. Instead of paying up front or paying for features with an in-app purchase, developer Supertop has elected to switch to a patronage model. Available for $2.99, $5.99, and $11.99, patronage unlocks no extra features, and is simply a way to support the developer. Note that patronage is not a subscription and does not auto-renew.

You can download Castro 1.5 from the App Store now.

OS X 10.11.2 Public Beta 3 now available for testers

On the heels of the release of the second developer beta, Apple has seeded a new public beta build of OS X 10.11.2 to members of the Beta Software Program. It is available through the Update section of the Mac App Store.

It's not yet clear what changes OS X 10.11.2 brings along. It's likely that it will focus on bug fixes and performance improvements. Apple seeded the third developer beta of OS X 10.11.2 earlier this week.

Vizable makes your Excel spreadsheets beautiful

Vizable is a new iPad app that gives you a new way to interact with your data. The app helps you create visually engaging and interactive graphs and charts out of your CSV or Microsoft Excel files. It's also optimized for the iPad Pro, and supports Split View and Slide Over multitasking.

Check out Vizable's headline features in the list below:

  • Transform data into interactive graphs and charts
  • Pan and zoom through data stored in CSV and Excel files
  • See patterns and understand relationships
  • Analyze trends and explore data over time
  • Beautiful animations help you see relationships
  • Share your data stories

You can check out Vizable from the App Store right now.