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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

FAA to allow gizmos (some of them, anyway) in flight

Maybe Alec Baldwin laughs last today, as the federal government has decided to do away with regulations keeping airline passengers from reading, working, playing games, watching movies or listening to music on their electronic devices during takeoff and landing.

The Associated Press reports: "Currently, passengers are required to turn off their smartphones, tablets and other devices once a plane's door closes. They're not supposed to restart them until the planes reach 10,000 feet and the captain gives the go-ahead. Passengers are supposed to turn their devices off again as the plane descends to land and not restart them until the plane is on the ground.

"Under the new guidelines, airlines whose planes are properly protected from electronic interference may allow passengers to use the devices during takeoffs, landings and taxiing, the FAA said. Most new airliners and other planes that have been modified so that passengers can use Wifi at higher altitudes are expected to meet the criteria." …

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Use iPhones to track your trick-or-treating crew

Of the four people in my family, only my wife and I carry iPhones (the kids have iPod touches they saved up and bought with their own cash), so this trick wouldn't work so well for us. But in addition to being a handy way to protect your gear from loss and theft, Apple's Find My iPhone feature can be used to keep track of where your tweens and teens are panhandling for candy on Thursday. Macworld's David Chartier has a good rundown.

"Sure," I can hear some of you thinking, "but I already use Find My Friends to keep track of my family. The geofencing feature even warns me if they leave our neighborhood." That's how I can tell that some of you don't know that the iOS 7 changed the way Find My Friends works — to the point that the app is essentially broken. It's unclear whether Apple is planning to drop Find My Friends or is just waiting to upgrade it for some reason, but the app icon's chunky stitched leather sticks out like a sore thumb among the shiny minimalist treatment other Apple apps got for iOS 7. For now, Find My iPhone seems like the only geolocation option Apple's offering.

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Apple ruined its iWork app suite, or something

Apple Inc.

Apple's iWork suite, the company's answer to Microsoft Office, includes Pages (a word processor), Numbers (a spreadsheet) and Keynote (a presentation tool). This company rendering shows Pages running on a MacBook Air, an iPhone 5s and an iPad mini.

Apple Inc.

I don't use iWork for much — I bought Pages mostly to convince my 14-year-old daughter she could work on the novel she says she's writing with her iPod and a Bluetooth keyboard, instead of monopolizing the family computer — but I've always thought it was a simple tool well suited for around 90 percent of what you'd ever want a home word processor to do.

Apparently it used to do a lot more than that for some folks, and they're now hacked off about the fact that it no longer does everything it used to do.

"Apple's iWork free upgrade has angered long-time Mac power users," Gregg Keizer writes for Computerworld, "who have flooded the company's support forum with complaints about lost features."

Keizer notes that this isn't the first time Apple has faced criticism for rolling back features as part of an upgrade. "Two years ago, when Apple shipped Final Cut Pro X absent some features and tools, customers revolted, kick-starting a petition and generating parody videos, including one from the video crew who worked on Conan O'Brien's late-night television talk show and another that relied on the overused scene from the movie Downfall (Der Untergang)." …

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Upgrading to OS X Mavericks? Here's what you need to know

I haven't upgraded my own iMac to Apple's new operating system, nicknamed Mavericks, yet — but I likely will, since it's free. I haven't found many friends or coworkers who've installed it yet to ask about their experience, tho'.

So, here's what folks are saying about it online:

Once I find the time to get it up and running myself, I'll let you know how it goes.

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Summing up yesterday's Apple announcements

An Apple employee demonstrates the new iPad Mini on Tuesday in San Francisco. Apple unveiled a new, thinner, lighter tablet called the iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina Display, along with a slew of new Macs and software.

Associated Press

An Apple employee demonstrates the new iPad Mini on Tuesday in San Francisco. Apple unveiled a new, thinner, lighter tablet called the iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina Display, along with a slew of new Macs and software.

Here's what we learned by the time Apple executives wrapped up their big announcements yesterday afternoon (summary courtesy of Macworld):

The headline for me was how much of the software upgrades are available for free.

And apparently not announced during the session, but no less interesting, was a software upgrade for iPhones, iPods and iPads. iOS 7.0.3 includes iCloud Keychain and fixes problems with iMessage, iWork apps, accelerometers on some iPhone models and more.

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Apple's October event is under way

"We still have a lot to cover," Apple's invitation to Tuesday's event promised.

Mashable.com

"We still have a lot to cover," Apple's invitation to Tuesday's event promised.

Apple's iPad / Mac / Media / Holiday / whatever event is under way at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. I'll have more on this tomorrow, but for a primer here's the Associated Press roundup of rumors and expectations, and MacRumors' live coverage of the event itself.

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Want your football fix online? Megabytes of MLB? It can be done, but it's not cheap

This Oct. 16, 2013, image made from an NFL Sunday Ticket computer tablet app shows highlights from the football game between the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots played on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013 in Foxborough, Mass. via DirecTV.

Associated Press / DirecTV

This Oct. 16, 2013, image made from an NFL Sunday Ticket computer tablet app shows highlights from the football game between the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots played on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013 in Foxborough, Mass. via DirecTV.

The Associated Press has a roundup online today by Bree Fowler in which she documents the lengths to which she and her husband went to keep up with their hometown sports teams when they moved to New York.

For the most part, it's a pretty good rundown of your options — and in a market like ours, where virtually everyone moved here from somewhere else — it's pretty useful. She documents DirectTV's NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL Sunday Ticket Max (for TV and computer/smartphone/tablet access to games), which I've never tried. I just think I'm better off not even trying to pitch my wife and kids on spending $300 a season so I can stay in touch with my fantasy picks. …

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Facebook for iOS users rejoice —€” and edit your posts and comments at will

Other new features in the latest Facebook app update include the ability to use sticker-like icons when posting to another user's timeline.

Facebook, via Apple

Other new features in the latest Facebook app update include the ability to use sticker-like icons when posting to another user's timeline.

The Facebook app for iPhones, iPads and iPods got a welcome update yesterday when the social networking behemoth updated its app to allow users to edit their posts and comments directly in the app.

"It's only taken forever," Michael Grothaus writes for The Unofficial Apple Weblog, "but Facebook for iOS fans can rejoice as their top request is now a reality."

Other new features, according to the release notes:

• Edit your posts and comments, and tap to see all your changes (iPhone only)
• Add a photo when you comment
• Express yourself with icons when you post to someone's timeline (English only)
• Get to privacy shortcuts by tapping the lock by your name in the main menu
• Bug fixes

Facebook is a free app available in Apple's App Store.

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Are you a parent of a teen with a Facebook account? You should read this

Is Facebook still cool with teenagers? I honestly don't know. I know my 14-year-old daughter still occasionally asks my wife and I to let her have one, even though she knows what the answer will be. But it has been a while …

Regardless, Facebook has announced some important changes to their privacy policy that parents should be aware of, if their kids have accounts.

1: While Facebook has long prevented 13- to 17-year-olds from making their status updates public (as opposed to sharing them only with friends or friends of friends), they now will be permitted to make their posts public. That means they'll be shared with the world at large, vastly expanding the reach of their social network circle to include complete strangers.

2: Facebook is also letting teens turn on the Follow feature, meaning strangers can subscribe to their status updates and see any and all they make public.

Caitlin McGarry reports on the news for TechHive ("Teens' public Facebook posts are guaranteed to cause controversy"), with an eye toward why Facebook would want to make such a move. Parents with teens who use Facebook should get familiar with the company's Minors & Privacy FAQ and Family Safety Center.

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Twitter to allow direct messages from people you don't follow

"Twitter is quietly rolling out a new opt-in feature that lets anyone DM you," Caitlin McGarry writes for TechHive. "In the past, people could only message you privately if you followed them and they followed you."

Twitter

"Twitter is quietly rolling out a new opt-in feature that lets anyone DM you," Caitlin McGarry writes for TechHive. "In the past, people could only message you privately if you followed them and they followed you."

Twitter added a new feature to its settings this week, allowing users to check a box that would allow direct messages from any follower, regardless of whether or not you follow them in return. (Currently, direct messaging — private messages between two Twitter users — is allowed only if both parties follow each other.) Caitlin McGarry outlined the new setting and its implications on TechHive yesterday.

Basically, it boils down to this. For lots of folks it would be really helpful to be reachable via private message on Twitter — except for the spam that could result. Turning on that feature could be followed by an immediate scramble to turn it back off if your DM mailbox starts filling up with useless chaff. The good news is, it's as easy to turn it off as it is to turn it on.

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Apple to announce new iPad models next week?

Looks that way.

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Sony announces $200 smartwatch for Android phones

Sony's SmartWatch 2

Sony Corp.

Sony's SmartWatch 2

"Sony's SmartWatch 2 hasn't gotten as much attention as Samsung Electronics Co.'s Galaxy Gear," Anick Jesdanun reports for the Associated Press today, "but it's cheaper and compatible with a broader range of phones."

The $200 price tag Sony announced is about $100 cheaper than the Gear. What does that get you? Well, you can't place calls from the SmartWatch 2. You can answer calls, but your phone will still need a Bluetooth wireless headset if you don't want to hold your wrist up to your ear to carry on a conversation. The idea, the company said, is primarily to let you read text messages and emails, like Facebook posts and get calendar reminders while your phone stays stashed away. Your options for sending replies directly from the watch will be limited to a few preset options.

The SmartWatch 2 will be available through the company's online and brick-and-mortar stores starting today. Read more from the AP here: "Sony's $200 smartwatch works with Android phones."

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Bug hunt: What's still wrong with iOS7

If you're among those who've made the jump to iOS 7 on your iPhone, iPad or iPod, odds are you've found something that either doesn't work as well as it used to or doesn't work as well as it should. (In my case, one such thing is iTunes Radio — a brand new feature, but for some reason every time I launch my favorite station and start listening, the first song cuts out and I'm taken back to the Radio tab in my iPhone's Music app.)

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AP: Facebook no longer lets users hide from search

The Associated Press reported today on an important change to Facebook's privacy policy:

"Facebook Inc. said Thursday that it is removing a setting that controls whether users could be found when people type their name into the website's search bar. Facebook says only a single-digit percentage of the nearly 1.2 billion people on its network were using the setting."

While it might be true that a small percentage of users were using this privacy feature, we're still talking about 12 million people who'd taken the time to protect themselves for reasons that might well not turn out to be trivial. And it's likely more people would've used the feature, I imagine, if Facebook had publicized it more widely or made it easier to find and use.

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Samsung introduces first curved-glass phone

The Galaxy Round, available only in South Korea for now, has a curved 5.7-inch screen using advanced display technology called organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, technology.

Samsung Electronics Co. / Associated Press

The Galaxy Round, available only in South Korea for now, has a curved 5.7-inch screen using advanced display technology called organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, technology.

Today's tbt* picked up a short wire story about the Samsung Galaxy Round. I know there's been a lot of talk about using curved glass in phones, but I have to admit I'm not clear on exactly how it's supposed to make your phone easier to use or work better.

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