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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

What's better than free Kahwa Coffee?


Maybe I'm the last one to know about this, but Kahwa Coffee introduced its own smartphone app this week.

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'Burritos are the best thing about being in love'


The keyboard in Apple's new iOS will guess words for you, with humorous results.


So, you might have heard that Apple released iOS 8 yesterday, the latest version of the operating software that runs iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. Lots of new features, lots of new stuff to learn how to do, traditional first-day hiccups (All that stuff about Apple's new HealthKit for managing your fitness data? Never mind, for now.) — but my favorite thing I've read about the new hotness is this:

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Warning: Dropbox isn't playing nice with iOS8

A Dropbox company blog notes that iThing users who've updated to iOS8 today are reporting problems uploading photos and videos. There's a support document available here. (Tip o' the hat to TUAW.com.)

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Will you be an iOS8 early adopter today? You'll need to get this important question right


(TL;DR — For the time being, the answer to "Upgrade to iCloud Drive? Not Now?" is Not Now.)

The next generation of iOS — the software that runs Apple's iPhones, iPads and iPod touches — comes out today, with release set for 1 p.m. Florida time. There's no real reason you need to download it immediately, and a couple pretty good reasons to wait until the dust settles a bit. But there's always a rush of folks who want to get their first look at the new hotness on the first day.

Regardless, you should know this: During the iOS upgrade process, you're going to be asked if you want to upgrade to iCloud Drive, Apple's new tool for letting information in your apps stay in sync between your iThings, your Mac and the Cloud. Eventually, when it all works as designed, it should be a good deal — but that day is not today. …

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Hope you were having a good hair day Friday


If you blinked, you’re probably out of luck for a while: Astronaut snaps, tweets quick pic of 19.32 million Floridians.

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A couple quick links for iThing users

Remember how bent some folks were that Apple bought them U2's new album — then essentially walked over to their bookshelf and stuck it in their CD changer? Well, Apple heard their complaints, and they're here to help. They released a special Songs of Innocence Removal Tool yesterday to help you get it out of your iTunes Library, if it bothers you so much. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing you'd need instructions to use, but they gave it its own support document, too.

Oh, and tomorrow is Sept. 17, meaning it's the release date for Apple's new operating system software for iPhones, iPads and iPod touches — iOS 8. There are plenty of guides out there for preparing your iThing for an upgrade — I thought Macworld's was pretty good. (Be sure to check out the "Leave a way back" section about how to keep a copy of iOS 7 in case you hate 8 and want to downgrade.) …

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Microsoft is buying Minecraft


Do your kids play Minecraft? (Or do you?) It's a popular open-ended game that lets users explore a Lego-like virtual world. It's been dowloaded 100 million times to PCs around the world, it's the most popular game on Xbox, and it's the top paid app in Apple's and Google's online stores — and the company that makes it (Mojang) is being purchased by Microsoft for $2.5 billion.

What will that mean for the game? That's still not clear. The company's software development team is joining Microsoft Studios, but founders Markus Persson (known as "Notch") Carl Manneh and Jakob Porsér are leaving the company. Mojang posted their confirmation online today.

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How do you really feel about that new U2 album showing up in your iTunes music library?


Also from Macworld today: Regardless of how you feel about getting U2's new album for free (even at that price, was it worth what you paid?), you might not appreciate having it suddenly show up among your music — you know, the music you actually decided on your own that you personally think is important to you? Here's a good explanation of why you are or aren't seeing it in your music library, and how you can make it go away for good if you decide you really don't want to see it.

There are a few folks out there who are genuinely angry about this, by the way. The way Apple was doing this did seem unusual to me on Tuesday — that they were actually buying it for people, rather than just making it available as a free download. Apple clearly wanted to make a big splash, something offering a free download wouldn't do. …

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Why you're suddenly paying much less for iCloud now (unless you weren't paying for it before)

Apple Inc.

We got an email on our home account yesterday evening letting is know that our current iCloud storage plan was going to start costing us a little less than half what we signed up to pay. (Yes, we pay for iCloud — we can't seem to back up two iPhones for my wife and I, plus two iPod touches for our kids, plus my iPad in the storage you get with a free account, as much as I'd like to.) Plus, we'll get the difference in a prorated refund.

"Nice," I thought. "Wait — huh?"

Here's what's up with that, courtesy of the newly decimated Macworld staff.

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What was up with Apple's terrible live video stream yesterday? Maybe this

Apple CEO Tim Cook smiles as he introduces the Apple Watch on Tuesday in Cupertino, Calif.

Associated Press

Apple CEO Tim Cook smiles as he introduces the Apple Watch on Tuesday in Cupertino, Calif.

Apple didn't have the best of luck providing a live video stream of the big show they put on yesterday. Anyone who counted on being able to watch the company's live video stream likely had trouble seeing it — and when they could see it, they had trouble making out what CEO Tim Cook and friends were saying through the Chinese(?) translation that seemed dubbed over the English audio.

"So what the hell happened?" asks TUAW.com writer Yoni Heisler. "How did Apple, which did quite a bit to hype up this event, manage to completely botch what would have otherwise been an exciting way to take in all the festivities?" Could they really have misjudged how many people would want to see what was going on?

Heisler points to a theory suggested by Dan Rayburn at Streaming Media: It wasn't the number of viewers that was the problem, it was the Twitter integration they attempted on the pages hosting the video feed, adding some special code to display tweets about the event. …

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So, Apple put on a little thing today …

Apple Inc.

Did you watch (no pun intended)? That thing was, like, 2 hours long! Anyway, Here's the nitty gritty:

  • The Apple Watch is unveiled. (That's it in the photo, of course.)
  • The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus look exactly like you'd been told to expect, but have some nifty new tech under the hood.
  • You'll be able to pay for stuff using an iPhone and Touch ID.
  • iOS8 will be available starting Sept. 17.
  • If you have an iTunes Store account, you just bought U2's new album (tho' it didn't cost you anything).
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    Apple is set for its big (whatever) announcement tomorrow

    Apple Inc.

    In New York, they've already started lining up (MacDailyNews). For what? Well, no one can say for certain, although some claim to be making educated guesses. (MacRumors.com).

    Here's what we do know: Apple has scheduled an invitation-only event for 1 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow, Sept. 9, at the Flint Center in Cupertino, Calif. They've posted a countdown to their own live coverage. If you'd rather, you can bookmark links now to others' live coverage, too (Macworld, MacRumors via Twitter, TUAW — even the stuffy New York Times). For some as yet unknown reason, they built a huge white construction in front of the Flint Center, seemingly taller than the theater itself (9to5mac.com). Maybe it's a stage for U2 (Business Insider).

    That pretty much covers everything we know for sure. However …

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    Should your phone detect nudity in your selfies?


    In a story posted to the New York Times' Bits blog this morning, Farhad Manjoo wonders why smartphones don't have features designed specifically for the way you take your naked selfies.

    It seems funny, but don't laugh. At least, Manjoo says we shouldn't. "In the wake of the release of several female celebrities’ nude images, it’s time that the tech industry begin taking the naked-photo security problem seriously," he says. "People carry smartphones with them wherever they go. People are also frequently found without clothing. Sure, some may counsel against the commingling these two states of nature, and sure, some people comply. But preaching abstinence isn’t working."

    Maybe there are things the companies that make your smartphone could be doing to detect nudity in your photos, and offer parental protection and document a security trail when it's detected. But I personally can't imagine any feature on a phone or camera that will reduce the need to offer anyone considering a naked selfie this simple, straightforward advice:


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    The celebrity nude photo hacking scandal: Two things you need to do right now

    Jennifer Lawrence arrives at the Oscars show in March.

    Getty Images

    Jennifer Lawrence arrives at the Oscars show in March.

    As of Tuesday afternoon, the FBI is investigating reports that several celebrities' online accounts had been hacked, leading to the posting of their nude photographs online.

    At the center of the scandal is Apple's iCloud service, with Kirsten Dunst leveling possibly the most public accusation:

    Apple hasn't admitted blame, but says it's looking into the matter. It is known that Apple has fixed a security gap in its Find My iPhone service — as I understand it, there had been no limit placed on the number or rate of incorrect login attempts, allowing hackers to try logging in repeatedly with a series of random or commonly used passwords until they found one that worked. (It's what's called a "brute force" attack.)

    Regardless of whether it turns out Apple's oversight was indeed to blame, it seems clear that taking a couple simple, common precautions could have protected Dunst, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson (never read the comments, Emma), et al., from a breach like this one — and they can protect you, too. …

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    Remember that Facebook Messenger loophole?

    The Messages tab in my newly updated Facebook app doesn't have messages in it anymore — even after using the canceled-download trick.


    The Messages tab in my newly updated Facebook app doesn't have messages in it anymore — even after using the canceled-download trick.

    I mentioned it a few days ago. From the screen shot above, it looks like Facebook might have closed it.

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