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Rdio's $3.99/Month Streaming Service Includes 25 Daily Downloads

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As the tech world awaits an announcement by Apple regarding its expected subscription music service, Rdio on Thursday undercut the competition by offering a low-cost streaming music service called Rdio Select. For $3.99 per month, you can stream Pandora-like stations ad-free at 320 kbs, enjoy unlimited skips, and access 25 of your favorite songs each day.



Add Power to your iPhone for Just $10

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Act fast, because until May 16th at 11:59pm (ET) only, PowerSkin is offering their PoP'n for just $10 shipped. Technically, it's a penny with $9.99 shipping, but however you slice it, it's a good deal, since it normally lists for $49.99 plus shipping. The PowerSkin PoP'n latches on to the Lightning port (or microUSB if that's what you order) of your iPhone and sticks to the back of the phone or case. Not all cases will work with it, as you need some clearance around the lightning port, but you could always remove your case if needed. Their website lists the iPhone 5/5s/5c, but it should work with an iPhone 6.



The Search for Apple Watch Apps Just Got a Little Easier

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If you were lucky (and brave) enough to pick up an Apple Watch, you probably want to find some killer apps for it. Maybe you want to justify your purchase, or show it off to friends, or just get the most out of your new device. After all, the original iPhone didn't really strut its stuff until the App Store showed up a year later.



Will Wolfram's New Image Identification Come to Siri?

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Some of Siri's specialized knowledge comes courtesy of WolframAlpha, a service that offers access to an extensive knowledge base. When you ask Siri how many calories are in a bagel, or what the square root of 128 is, Siri's answer comes from WolframAlpha.



Google Apple Watch App Offers News, but Is Not as Good as CNN's

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It's always a good sign when one of the top companies develops an app for a new platform. Google has just launched their first Apple Watch-ready app: Google News & Weather (free). The app offers the top 10 news headlines, drawing upon over 65,000 publications. On the iPhone and iPad, the app, which was first available last fall, offers news in categories such as Technology, Sports, and Fashion. The Apple Watch content, though, is limited to the latest headlines, and doesn't include local news and weather. With each headline you can scroll down to see a photo. However, you're not able to view the full story or to see a summary. On the other hand, a Force Touch adds the news story to your reading list in Safari. 



Mount the Apple Watch in Your Automobile

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The Apple Watch may not be cheap, but it could actually be a practical alternative to a CarPlay or Bluetooth-enabled stereo system. I recently added Bluetooth stereo to my old car and it cost over $200 for an entry-level model. With the right car mount, you can use your Apple Watch as a hands-free speakerphone, complete with Siri integration.



LUNATIK Is at It Again, with a Protective Case for the Apple Watch

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You might remember LUNATIK, the folks behind Epik, a hardened case that turned the old square iPod nano into a rugged watch. Apple stopped making that little iPod a few years ago, and during that time, LUNATIK has been anticipating an Apple Watch. They are now ready to release their Kickstarter campaign for a protective shell for the Apple Watch. As I wrote about earlier, the Apple Watch is proving to be more durable than expected and even scratches on the stainless steel model can be removed.



More Colors, Memory, and Megapixels For Next iPhone?

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A new iPhone isn't likely to show up until September and given Apple's track record, it is likely to be a minor tweak of the existing design with an "s" suffix. Applelnsider is reporting that the next iPhone, the iPhone 6s (and 6s Plus) will be available in Rose Gold to match the high-end Apple Watch Edition models. Its doubtful that the phones case would actually be made of real gold, given the size and short lifespan of phones and the "bendability" of gold and the "Bendgate" controversy. The more interesting aspects of the rumor, to me, are a better camera, which is long overdue, and more memory.



New York Times Now Free in iOS App

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A new version of the New York Times app for iPhone, called NYT Now (free), was released yesterday. And the big news is that you can now read unlimited articles without having a paid subscription. (Previously, the cost was $7.99 per month.) In addition, the new version highlights the latest news at the top of your news feed, lets you share screen shots of stories with your friends, and includes support for 1Password. You can also subscribe to the Morning Briefing and receive an alert when it's ready. 



Apple Watch Takes a Licking, Keeps on... Clicking

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The Apple Watch doesn't "tick" like a Timex, whose slogan has been "Takes a licking, keeps on ticking" but in a recent "torture test" it survived better than Apple promised. An enterprising amateur athlete, dubbed DC Rainmaker, took an Apple watch on a 10-plus minute swim, a few dives from a high diving board, and more and found it worked without any noticeable issues. He even simulated a 40 meter dive, although the watch is rated for just 1 meter!



Video Gives Good Look at $400 Gold-Plated Apple Watch

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Not long after the Apple Watch became available, some companies began offering gold plating. Why spend $10,000 on the Apple Watch Edition when you can get a gold-plated Apple Watch for $1,000 or less? I was curious what the result would be, and a video posted on YouTube's TechSmartt channel gives a clear look at how Keaton Keller's watch turned out. He is thrilled, as you can see in the video below.



Rumor: Apple's Forthcoming Streaming Music Service to Include Up to Three-Month Free Trial

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Re/Code reported late last week that Apple's new subscription music service, expected to be announced next month, may include a free trial of one to three months, if Apple gets its way in current negotiations with the record labels. In addition, Apple would like to offer free samples of songs. A company, for example, might make one song from a new album available for free as a way of enticing listeners to purchase the album. Plus, Apple wants to offer free iTunes Radio stations curated by real DJs and has already begun hiring them.



iPad Pro Screen Could Be Bigger but Thinner

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It's a poorly kept secret that Apple is looking at making a bigger iPad, dubbed an iPad Pro, likely with a 12.9-inch screen. And we have seen indications that such an iPad would make use of Apple's new Force Touch sensors to detect how hard a user presses, and respond differently based on that pressure. But to add a Force Touch sensor similar to the ones in their new MacBooks, Apple may need to make more room available. If they can make the already slim iPad screen even thinner, this could provide the space they need.



The Verdict on the Apple Watch, from Twitter and from Kids

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So now that the Apple Watch has been out for a while, you've likely read the reviews. Overall, they tend toward the positive but are definitely mixed. But what about regular users? A company called CrowdFlower analyzed more than 30,000 individual tweets on Twitter to get a sense for what users are saying. And a delightful video, embedded below, gives the charming reaction of 11 kids who are introduced to the Apple Watch.



Apple's New "Change Everything" Campaign for iPad Includes New Web Page

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Sales of the iPad have been declining for a year, though it's still the most popular tablet on the market. Apple clearly hasn't given up on the iPad, as evidenced by their new marketing campaign that includes a 90-second commercial and a new area on their website. Titled "Everything Changes with the iPad," the website is oriented toward prospective iPad purchasers and possibly new users, showing how the iPad can change how they do things. The information is divided into the categories of Cooking, Learning, Small Business, Traveling, and Redecorating. In addition, there's a "Why iPad?" section that highlights third-party apps and the App Store.



Apple Watch Could Get Smaller, Add More Sensors

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While some new owners of the Apple Watch are content to destroy it for the benefit of YouTube fans, other firms like iFixit and Chipworks are carefully taking their Apple Watches apart to check out the components inside. Chipworks has had some time to analyze the components and reached some conclusions. Here are some key takeaways.



Go For the Gold Apple Watch, For Less

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There are 54 combinations of the Apple Watch, but that may still not be enough for some people. Third parties are making their own bands and even bands with batteries in them. But if you really want to stand out, you probably want a gold Apple Watch. If you don't have $14,000 to pay for a gold Apple Watch Edition, the folks at WatchPlate.com have a more affordable alternative.



Apple and VoiceOver Honored For Accessibility Efforts

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Apple has a long history of making its products more accessible to the blind and other communities. Despite, or perhaps because of a scathing Reuters article that blasted Apple on the accessibility front, the American Foundation for the Blind just singled out Apple and will give them its Helen Keller Achievement Award. I can relate, as I work with the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, here in Rochester, NY, and have participated in focus groups and technology fairs; and I'll be there in a couple of weeks for another tech fair, because of my AllAccess app that reads menus to the blind. I also participate in the Visually Impaired iPhone Users Group on Google Groups.



How Siri Gets Smarter

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Google has at least one big advantage over Apple when it comes to voice queries, namely their eponymous search engine. Apple has had to rely on partners like Google, Bing, and Wolfram Alpha to deliver information in response to Siri queries. While Google has had years of experience in this area, Apple has always outsourced search. But, just as with Apple Maps, Apple doesn't want to rely on Google, or anyone really, if they can do it themselves. This way the company controls its own destiny.



Rumor: Apple's Subscription Music Service to Launch in June

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Rumors have been swirling about a music subscription service from Apple ever since they purchased Beats Music and Beats Electronics. Many are expecting Apple to unveil a subscription music service that will compete with services such as Spotify. For $10 per month you can listen to all your favorite music without having to purchase it. However, on Tuesday Billboard reported that Apple was having challenges finalizing the licensing deals with the content providers, raising the question of whether Apple would be able to announce the service at the Worldwide Developers Conference June 8–12, as many had been expecting. But 9To5Mac contacted their sources and learned that Apple is still planning to announce the service at WWDC and will launch the new service in late June as part of iOS 8.4 and iTunes 12.2.



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