MacNN and Electronista daily deals for April 17, 2015
Hello and welcome to Daily Deals, where the staff of MacNN and Electronista scour online retailers to find discounts, offers, and sales for you, our discerning readers. A recap of still-active deals from the rest of the week follows the new deals batch, which includes an inexpensive hybrid hard drive/SSD for the desktop, a great deal on the 850 evo SSD, and a good price on a smart TV.
Get the good and avoid the irritating features of streaming music
There are other streaming music services and you can well argue that there are better ones, but Spotify is winning the war to become the Hoover, Biro and iPad of its class: the brand name that somehow becomes synonymous with the idea. At least, nobody tells you what their favourite iTunes Radio station is, no one in the world sends you links to Pandora and it's like few people have heard of Beats. Yet. However, Spotify is known even by normal people and it is a way in to streaming music.
Capturing the magic and bringing it all together for your audio or video podcast
This should be considered part 2.5 of a short series of Pointers that concern themselves with the finer points of podcasting (we sort-of started with a Pointers about voice recording on the Mac generally, then went into the first requirements specifically for a podcast). This week, the Wednesday Pointers will focus on defining your podcast, including which of three media types you want to go for; recording tips for local, field, and remote discussions; and then some focus on editing.
Audio Description tracks added to Netflix-produced shows
Netflix is making some of its content more accessible to the visually impaired, by adding an alternate "Audio Description" track to shows. Starting with the recently-released Daredevil today and reaching other Netflix-produced shows in the coming weeks, the extra option provides a narration track that describes scenes and important character attributes, such as costumes, facial expressions, and actions.
Unique relaxation app offers calming sounds and eye-catching interactive visuals
We like our relaxation apps here, from our sound generators to our guided meditation apps. We're also open to trying things that are a little more "out there," which was one of the biggest reasons we took a look at Sunny, an audio and visual relaxation app that's pretty special.
'Sneak peek' offers better iTunes Radio experience; Xcode 6.4 beta updated also
On Monday, Apple released the first iOS 8.4 beta to developers, which among other feature includes what the company calls a "sneak peek" at a revamped Music app that now offers a new Miniplayer, global search, a better iTunes Radio experience and improved "Now Playing" screen that allows custom art from users, along with a Recently Added automatic playlist. In addition, Apple updated its Xcode 6.4 beta with new SDKs for iOS 8.4, and compatibility updates for OS X Mavericks (10.9) and Yosemite (10.10).
An affordable, high-quality digital mic for podcasts, VOIP, more
We've been writing a lot lately about some of the aspects involved in podcasting -- see this Pointers column as an example -- as well as moving our own site example of the form, The MacNN Podcast, to Soundcloud and now (finally) iTunes for better distribution. For some of our staff that contribute to the broadcast, its meant getting a decent microphone for the first time. As a veteran podcaster, currently a regular on no less than three very different podcasts, I generally recommend the Blue Snowball USB.
Users can color-coordinate with other Apple devices; other color options still available
Amidst all the hoopla surrounding the Apple Watch pre-orders and try-ons, as well as the availability of the new 12-inch Retina MacBook, Apple's Beats division has announced some new Beats Solo2 wireless headphone models, now available in iPhone/iPad/MacBook-matching Gold, Silver, and Space Gray colors. The new color options do not displace the existing black, blue, white, and red options, but are not available yet for the wired version of the Solo2.
MacNN and Electronista deals for Friday April 10, 2015
Hello and welcome to Daily Deals, the time of day when the staff of MacNN and Electronista trawl the Internet for offers and discounts for you, our discerning readers. A recap of earlier still-active deals follows, headed up with news offers, including a heavy sale on refurbished Linksys routers and access points, the Roku 3 streaming media player, and a rare sale on the Sonos:Play 5 streaming speaker.
Make professional, fun, high-quality sound loops!
If you've ever spent a quiet day indoors with nothing to do, chances are you know how much you'd welcome a noisy distraction. But maybe it's the middle of the day, and there's nothing good on TV, or maybe you're feeling a little creative. That's why you should check out Keezy, a unique music-making app that just about anyone can master.
New 12.1.12 version of iTunes adds support for OS X Photos, iOS 8.3 syncing, more
Apple has updated its iTunes music software for OS X separately of its 10.10.3 release yesterday. The new version, 12.1.2, adds support for the OS X Photos application that was included in 10.10.3, though it also still supports iPhoto. The update brings sync support for Photos to sync to iOS devices. It has also added support for syncing with iOS 8.3, and made general "refinements" to the Get Info display in iTunes, as well as improving overall stability.
MacNN and Electronista deals for April 9, 2015
Hello and welcome to Daily Deals, the time of day when the staff of MacNN and Electronista trawl the Internet for offers and discounts for you, our discerning readers. A recap of earlier still-active deals follows, headed up with news offers including the Slingbox M1, some open-box Vizio ultrabooks, and some Sennheiser Audiophile headphones.
Good podcasts are a lot of work, but can bring fame, acclaim
Last Wednesday on Pointers, we talked about the many reasons one might want to do some voice-oriented recording of a more serious nature on one's Mac or iOS device, such as interviews or as part of creating a YouTube video. We also made some entry-level recommendations on decent mics (the built-in mic on most Macs is fine for FaceTime calls, but its limitations show up quickly when trying to do something professional-sounding) and capturing software. This time around, we'll talk about the mechanics of making a podcast.
MacNN and Electronista deals for April 8, 2015
Hello and welcome to Daily Deals, the post where the staff of MacNN and Electronista search the Internet for discounts, offers, sales, and other items for our discerning readers. Today, the catch-up of still-active deals is accompanied by a new wave of offers, including a large collection of notebooks, the Sony NEX-F3K/S for $200, and a 240GB SSD for $100.
MacNN and Electronista deals for April 7, 2015
Hello and welcome to Daily Deals, where we scour online retailers for offers, savings, and discounts for you, our discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. As well as a recap of still-active deals from yesterday, today's new items include the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 Neo, a 27-inch WQHD monitor, and the Sony Alpha A3000.
Staffers reflect on the fifth anniversary of the iPad, ponder the Surface 3
Presenting episode nine of The MacNN Podcast, which this week features a hands-on report on the new 2015 MacBook Pro, along with some chatting about the recently-revealed new MacBook benchmarks, well ahead of its April 10 debut. We also celebrate the fifth anniversary of the iPad by talking about the many ways, big and small, it has changed our lives. We discuss the new Surface 3 from Microsoft, the Doctor Who BBC bundle on BitTorrent, and more.
MacNN and Electronista deals for April 6, 2015
Hello and welcome to Daily Deals, our regular look at the online discounts and offers available for purchase by you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Since it's the start of the week, all the older deals have been wiped from the list, with the new deals including the Samsung NX300 at less than half price, Belkin surge protectors, and Sennheiser headphones.
European Commission concerned Apple bullying labels into contracts
The European Union's antitrust agency, the European Commission, has sent out a series of questionnaires to labels and digital music companies. The query is asking for details about deals between Apple and the publishers in advance of the Beats acquisition-driven music service, expected to launch this summer.
A free podcast management app with purchasable upgrades
When we did our Hands On for Downcast, a few readers responded with a suggestion to also take a look at Overcast. Overcast begins as a free app with more advanced features, which can be unlocked with an in-app purchase. This review is mostly about the free version of Overcast, and we'll briefly touch on what the premium features are.
Beyond FaceTime calls, there are handy reasons to record
Most Macs (with the exception of the Mac mini and the Mac Pro) -- and all iOS devices -- come with a built-in microphone that is above-average in quality for that sort of device. A typical user might employ it for all kinds of purposes beyond the normal phone calling: dictating emails, voice memos, FaceTime calls. There are times, however, where you need much higher quality, and this Pointers column will talk about some of those situations, and how to create recordings you can be proud of.
MacNN and Electronista deals for April 1, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, our usual look at the discounts and offers retailers hold in their online and offline stores, where we list the better deals for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista readers. As well as a recap of this week's still-active deals, the new list includes 50 percent off Pixelmator, a 128GB flash drive, and a 1080p Acer projector.
Griffin Twenty brings wireless streaming to passive speakers
A few years ago Griffin launched the original Twenty, a small digital amp that used an AirPort Express to turn any set of passive speakers into a wireless system for streaming music. Unfortunately for Griffin, shortly after the launch of the Twenty, Apple updated the design of the AirPort Express, which instantly antiquated the digital amp. Now, thanks to advancements in Bluetooth technology, Griffin no longer needs to lean on Apple's AirPlay technology for streaming, and is back with a new and improved version of the Twenty Digital Amp. We have spent some time with the updated digital amp -- see what we thought about it in our full review.
MacNN and Electronista deals for March 31, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the regular post where we scour the Internet for discounts, offers, and deals for our discerning MacNN and Electronista readers. Today, we recap the still-active deals from yesterday, and the new additions to the list this time includes a 960GB SSD for under $300, discounted Mac minis and MacBooks at Micro Center, and a Fujifilm FinePix bundle at Best Buy.
Jay-Z, Daft Punk, other musical artists now owners of Tidal
Music streaming service Tidal has relaunched as an artist-owned company. At a star-studded launch event streamed live, the musical artists owning part of the service gathered together for the announcement, with the overall message offered being Tidal's push to benefit musical artists more than its competitors, such as Spotify and its allegedly low royalty payments.
MacNN and Electronista deals for March 30, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the weekday post when the staff of MacNN and Electronista take a moment to search retailers for offers, discounts, and other items for you, our beloved readers. Today, we wipe the slate clean of older deals, with the new deals including hefty discounts on Sony noise-cancelling headphones, a $65 Canon multifunction laser printer, and a sub-$400 30-inch display.
Replacement for Sony Music Unlimited heads to PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
The replacement for Sony Music Unlimited is going live on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 today, powered by Spotify. Launching in 41 countries, PlayStation Music provides gamers with access to streaming music, allowing users to play their choice of soundtrack as a background to whatever game they are playing on the Sony game consoles.
MacNN and Electronista deals for March 26, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, our regular look at the discounts, offers, sales, and other money-saving items for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. As usual, we recap the still-active deals from over the last week, as well as introducing new items, including Sol Republic Master Tracks headphones, a $40 Linksys router, and OCZ Vertex SSD storage.
Beats integration, iTunes overhaul likely to be on agenda for WWDC in June
A new article in The New York Times describes in some detail the alleged transition plans Apple is undertaking to transform both iTunes and Beats Music, it's acquired subscription streaming service. Among other details, the report assigns roles to iTunes Radio chief Zane Lowe, who until recently was a top BBC Radio 1 DJ, and describes musician Trent Reznor as a "point man" on an iOS Music app overhaul.
MacNN and Electronista deals for March 25, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the regular post where we, the staff of MacNN and Electronista, search online retailers for discounts and savings on general tech, gadgets, and software, for our discerning readers. Today, we recap the still-active deals from earlier this week, with the new deals including $100 off the iPad Air 2, an external 750GB drive for $35, and a 49-inch LG 4K TV for less than half price.
Apple TV gains three additional channels amid talk of fall revamp
On Tuesday, Apple added three channels to its ever-expanding Apple TV lineup, bringing Young Hollywood, Tastemade, and TED to current-generation (black) Apple TV boxes. The TED app channel brings access to over 2,000 lectures and performances, with existing TED members able to sign in and sync viewing and watch lists across devices, as well as bringing the personalized "lean back" autoplay feature to the Apple TV.
First products with Bang & Olufen to appear 'this spring'
HP and Bang & Olufsen today announced a collaboration that brings the sound and engineering of Bang & Olufsen and B&O Play to HP's PCs, tablets and accessories. The move was made necessary by Apple's purchase and cessation of nearly all licensing programs of the Beats brand, previously found on a wide array of HP products.
Over 200,000 users of Deezer Elite since US launch
Deezer is expanding the reach of its high-quality music streaming service to other regions. Initially part of the launch of Deezer in the United States, the Deezer Elite subscription is now available in more than 150 countries, allowing subscribers to listen to the company's collection of 35 million lossless FLAC-encoded tracks whenever they want.
Pioneer debuts second-generation NEX in-dash receivers with CarPlay, Android Auto
Auto audio accessories maker Pioneer has debuted a new series of second-generation NEX receivers that feature both CarPlay and Android Auto baked in, replacing earlier models that added CarPlay compatibility through a firmware update. Versions are available with either resistive touch or capacitive touch screens, ranging from $700 to $1,400 for aftermarket installation. The new models add support for Android Auto, and offer better touch sensitivity, brighter screens, and better color vibrancy.
Universal said to be in contract negotiations, wants Spotify to weaken free service
Universal Music Group (UMG) wants Spotify to add more limits to its free streaming service, according to reports. The record label is apparently having issues with the freemium music offering and its apparent lack of revenue, and hopes that restricting the number of listens for songs will push Spotify users to the more lucrative paid subscription service.
Easily download, find, manage, and play back podcasts
Devices come and go, generally every two years when your cellular plan comes up for renewal, but a good utility app transcends hardware. Downcast by Jamawkinaw Enterprises is one such app for this reviewer. We first downloaded it back when Apple spun Podcasts off into a separate app, which we didn't find very intuitive at the time. Downcast is very intuitive, and we've never looked back.
Downloads still king of market, but falling alongside overall music revenue
A new report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) finds that revenue from music streaming services such as Beats Music, Pandora, and Spotify have now in total beaten out revenue from CD sales in the US, capitalizing on the latter's continued fall from grace (largely thanks to excessively high CD pricing). Both formats are still well behind download sales as the top revenue stream, but even that format is gently declining.
MacNN and Electronista deals for March 19, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the post where we scour the Internet's major retailers to uncover the finest price cuts and discounts on technology and software for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Today's recap of deals from earlier in the week is accompanied by a swathe of new additions, including a GoPro Hero4 bundle, the SteelSeries Stratus, and an extremely cheap memory upgrade.
Fantastical 2 for Mac arriving March 25, only hint is revised Yosemite look
The well-regarded calendaring program, Fantastical for Mac, is about to receive a major upgrade. Version 2.0 will be launched on March 25, and will feature a revised look more in line with the Yosemite aesthetic. The company isn't saying anything about what, if any, new features the update will include, but has indicated that while there will be no upgrade pricing for existing users, a limited-time launch sale price will act to fill that role.
A little fine-tuning will result in delightful listening
Apple's iTunes Radio is one of those things that is criminally underused by most Mac and iOS users, and its a shame: the service is really very good -- and with a tiny amount of effort, can be as, or more, enjoyable than even Pandora One or the other subscription streaming music services, not to mention cheaper. In this post, we're going to show you how to create, and then fine-tune, a custom station that features music you love and compatible new discoveries.
MacNN and Electronista deals for March 16, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the time of the day when we search the Internet for discounts and offers on a variety of hardware, software, and gadgetry for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. Today's post has wiped the slate clean of older deals, meaning that all the ones listed are brand new deals waiting for your attention, including some JBL headphones, external storage from LaCie, and a discounted iPad Air.
Loud and light portable Bluetooth speaker
When we looked at the Kitsound Pocket Hive speaker, we said it was loud and clear. This larger Kitsound Bomber 2 speaker from the same company is louder and clearer -- and it comes with a carrying case.
Learn a second language easily with this smartly-designed app
Have you ever been suckered in to some sort of "learn language quickly" scheme? Audio tapes that you listen to in your sleep, expensive software that requires hours of use in a single setting, classes that require a large amount of physical effort? Don't worry, most bilingual-curious folk have. We caught ourselves using a demo of a big-name software -- and while it worked, it would have cost hundreds of dollars and still required 45-minute sessions multiple times a week. Enter Duolingo, a slick little app that aims to help you make quick work of picking up a second (or third, or fourth...) language -- for free.
Send audio from one device to another wirelessly
Audreio lets multiple iOS devices connect through Wi-Fi, sending audio input from one to be played back and recorded on the other. Our first impulse was to leave an iPad sitting discreetly on a shelf in one room, and use an iPhone in another to freak out our friends ... but there are many more uses than that. Just make sure you have a good router, and don't forget your headphones.
Small but meaningful changes enforce company's strong privacy, ethical outlook
On Thursday, Apple updated App Store Review guidelines to reinforce privacy, consent, and other ethical concerns regarding the implementation of apps that work with medical data (specifically ResearchKit), Apple Pay, and apps that download or stream music or video. The guidelines generally reinforce more transparency or set minimum standards, but also target apps that illegally "rip" copyrighted material from video and audio sites like Vimeo and Soundcloud.
New components good for either add-on, or new construction
Streaming multi-room music solutions provider CasaTunes announced on Tuesday four new products for multi-room music with the CT-4+ System, CT-8+ System, CT-4S Streamer and CT-8S Streamer. The two CasaTunes Systems are complete multi-room audio systems, including the server, audio streams and audio distribution switch, with everything inside the one music system. The CasaTunes Streamers include the server and music streams, and are ideal for homes that want to add streaming music options to existing audio distribution systems.
Pandora still exploring price options before launching day passes
Pandora is going to be giving its customers an alternative to its Pandora One subscription plan, by allowing users to buy shorter passes. The streaming music service is planning a day pass system, which will offer a full 24-hour period of advertising-free music to buyers for $1, though there is also the chance Pandora may choose to provide longer passes, at different price points.
Clever music app makes musicianship possible - even for newbies!
It's been said that creating music is one of the finer joys in life. However, not everyone has the chance to invest in an instrument, or lessons, or spend the time practicing. Because of this, a large portion of the population is left to only wonder what it would be like if they were to create their own music. That's why we took a look at Musyc Pro, a strangely simple app aimed at the casual musician.
Timing for overhaul set for around WWDC; Android version might continue?
Apple is now aiming for a revamp of its Beats Music streaming service, which will see the offering tied in more closely to both iTunes and other Apple products and services, to happen in June -- right around the time of the expected Worldwide Developers Conference, which is likely to happen on June 8–12, according to sources familiar with current plans. In addition to retaining the personalization and hand-curated recommendation features, Apple may be planning to lower the monthly cost.
SF's Yerba Buena Center gains Apple signage for the 'Spring Forward' event
Crews are putting up banners, signs, and other decorations to transform the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco into an Apple auditorium for the March 9 "Spring Forward" event, where Apple is expected to offer a general update on its various initiatives as well as formally debut the Apple Watch, which will arrive in stores some time in April. As reported earlier, Apple is also building on an extension to the center that will likely serve as a showcase room for the press to try out the new Apple Watch.
Tinder Plus dating app subscription adds rewind, location changing functions
Tinder has launched a paid subscription option for its localized dating app called Tinder Plus, adding two more features to the service as well as providing unlimited "likes." Passport allows paid users to select other locations to search for people in those areas, while Rewind allows for the correction of the last swipe action performed, potentially allowing for the user to reverse an accidental left swipe in the iOS and Android app. Recode notes that the cost of Tinder Plus varies with age, costing US users under the age of 30 $10 per month, while older users must pay $20, with a representative claiming that the service is appeasing the "budget constrained" younger user.