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CONSUMER ELECTRONICS | MOBILE | SOFTWARE

5 unexpectedly useful apps

These days, there really is an app for almost anything--even things you may never have thought of. Want to connect two previously unlinked web services? An app can help. Want to link two previously unconnected devices? Yup, there's an app for that, too. Read on for information on five of my favorite unexpectedly useful apps.

ENTERTAINMENT | GAMES

PlayStation 4 beats Xbox One to 3D Blu-ray movie playback

Sony began rolling out a new update for PlayStation 4 users on Tuesday that finally brings 3D Blu-ray movie playback to the next-generation gaming console. Sony reminded users via Twitter late Monday that PS4 system software update 1.75 was coming soon, and not eight hours later the update began rolling out in Europe.

HARDWARE SYSTEMS

Apple bumps MacBook Pro processors across the line

Been holding out for the latest update to the MacBook Pro line? Hold out no longer: Apple on Tuesday quietly issued a small speed bump to its professional notebook line, bringing new processors to the laptops.

COMPONENTS | HARDWARE SYSTEMS | CONSUMER ELECTRONICS

Why sapphire iPhone screens could be Apple's next big thing

Many years ago, when Apple's idea of a smartphone was the Rokr and the company wasn't yet racking in billions of dollars by the bucketful, a friend of mine came to me with a rather unique problem: The plastic screen of his iPod classic--back then, still just "an iPod"--had melted.

INDUSTRY VERTICALS

Toyota Entune and VW Car-Net do things Android Auto and Apple CarPlay can't touch

While the world waits for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to change how we use our phones in our cars, automakers are already busy coming at it from the other direction--changing how we use our cars with our phones.

INTERNET

Former Tech City deputy CEO launches petition against Shoreditch skyscrapers

Former Tech City deputy CEO Benjamin Southworth has launched a petition against a property development scheme in Shoreditch, claiming it will have a negative impact on Tech City's "charm and soul".

SECURITY

Is the WEDG the answer to post-Snowden data paranoia? Its inventor remains hopeful

The British entrepreneur behind the innovative WEDG secure storage box for the ‘post-Snowden era' has told Techworld he remains upbeat about its chances despite still being some way short of the £90,000 ($150,000) set for the project on Kickstarter.

SECURITY

City of London Police to deploy warning banners on illegal websites

The City of London Police today announced that it has started replacing advertising on copyright infringing websites with official force banners.

BUSINESS ISSUES | NETWORKING

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How to find the hotels, beaches and airports with the best Wi-Fi

Hotel chains like the Radisson, Hilton, and Doubletree usually end up near the top of the list of approved places to stay for business trips. But if you're looking for high-speed Wi-Fi, you might be better off avoiding them.

MOBILE | NETWORKING | CONSUMER ELECTRONICS

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Fitbit narrowly misses becoming the first activity tracker for Windows Phone

With Fitbit's release of a native Windows Phone app on Monday, Microsoft has taken the first steps of its marathon to catch up to Android and iOS in wearables.

Expert Opinion

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Our favorite iOS Apps, July edition

As we do every month, Macworld staffers got together to chat about the best apps they've been using recently. Here are some that have recently captured our imaginations (and perhaps a spot on our homescreens), whether they're tiny apps from budding developers or the top-grossing apps that everyone is using. Our hope is that, while you might recognize some of these apps, others you might never have encountered. All of them, we think, are worth a look.

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Microsoft's productivity drive could kill software as we know it

On Thursday, Satya Nadella charted a new course for Microsoft, focused on interconnectivity and productivity--one where, conceivably, the company's standard-setting Office applications and other products and services could slowly blur into different modes of working with the same data.

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All about DDR4, the next-gen memory coming soon for PCs and mobile devices

New CPU and GPU architectures roil the market pretty much every year--sometimes more than once a year. Yet in spite of the impact that system memory can have on a PC's performance, the industry has relied on the same basic memory architecture for what seems like an eternity--in tech time, at least.

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Apple's HomeKit hub may already be in your house

At Apple's recent Worldwide Developers Conference, the company announced--among a great many other things--HomeKit, a suite of tools for controlling such devices in your home as thermostats, furnaces and air conditioners, smart appliances, lights, cameras, garage-door openers, and security systems. Apple will provide a platform that these devices will be asked to conform to. Do so, and you can control them all from your iOS device.

Editors Pick

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Apple doesn't need its own gadgets to dominate the smart home

If you believe the weekend rumors, Apple will announce a connected-home platform next week at WWDC. But before you get too excited about an iThermostat and an iFridge and an iCamera watching you sleep, consider this: If Apple does get into the home-automation market, that doesn't necessarily mean it'll make smart-home gadgets of its own.

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10 things we want to see in Microsoft's Surface Mini

If Microsoft indeed intends to release a shrunk-down Surface Mini this month, as an invite for a "small" Surface event suggests, merely downsizing the tablet's design to fit an 8-inch frame ain't going to cut it. Sure, the Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 are beautiful pieces of kit, but they're made for big-screen productivity--the Surface Pro is essentially an Ultrabook without a keyboard. That experience won't translate well to a smaller form factor, better suited for content consumption than content creation.

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With this phone, I thee wed: How the Nokia-Microsoft union changes everything

There's no getting cold feet now. On Friday, Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's device business will be official, after months of delays and regulatory hurdles. The remnants of Nokia will get a whopping $7.2 billion. In return, Microsoft will get 32,000 new employees, a legion of Lumias, and oh yeah, those funky Android-based Nokia X phones.

Latest Product Reviews

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MediaBeam: This ultra-cheap streaming stick isn't worth the money

Just what the world needs: another HDMI dongle to compete with Google's Chromecast and Roku's Streaming Stick. Like those popular devices, Ematic's MediaBeam plugs directly into one of your HDTV's HDMI ports in order to stream content.

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Samsung Gear Live: It's the world's best smartwatch, but probably not for long

The Gear Live is the best smartwatch I've ever used--but that's not a remarkable achievement considering all the crappy-to-middling efforts we've seen from Samsung, Sony and Qualcomm. If I were being generous, I'd say Samsung finally landed on a simple, wrist-friendly interface that does away with messy nested menus and convoluted features like voice calling.

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OnePlus One: You're in control with this ultra-affordable phone

There's a utopian idea behind the OnePlus One: Offer a phone powered by the latest hardware and featuring a wealth of carrier options without any carrier restrictions. If that doesn't grab you, the price tag might--it's $300 for an off-contract 16GB model, about half of what you'd pay for phones boasting similar specs. But does the phone deliver a premium experience?

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App Factory 1.2: Turn your script into a stand-alone app

Editor's note: The following review is part of Macworld's GemFest 2014. Every day (except weekends) from July until September, the Macworld staff will use the Mac Gems blog to briefly cover a standout free, low-cost, or great-value program. You can view a list of this year's apps, updated daily, on our handy GemFest chart, and you can visit the Mac Gems homepage for past Mac Gems reviews.