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iOS 8.1.3 goes live, reduces space needed for over-the-air updates

01/27, 1:27pm

Generally directed at bugfixes

Apple has released iOS 8.1.3 via iTunes and as an over-the-air download. Though primarily a maintenance update, it does make an important change, reducing the amount of storage that will be needed for future over-the-air upgrades. The amount of space iOS 8 requires for an OTA update has been a common complaint by users; on 16GB iPhones and iPads, there is frequently too little room left, forcing people to use iTunes instead. Apple hasn't said how much storage will be needed in the future.

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Hands On: MeteoEarth (iOS)

01/21, 4:24pm

Monitor the weather in detail from your pocket

Meteorology is a fascinating topic, and one that is freely available for most people to study, provided they know where to look. Monitoring the national weather websites is a great place to start, but if you're looking for something more portable, MeteoEarth by MeteoGroup Deutschland is like having a weather station in your pocket.

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Acer unveils C910, C740 Chromebooks for education market

01/21, 11:29am

Reinforced cases, hinges used in educational Acer Chromebooks

Acer has unveiled two Chromebooks aimed at the education market. The C910 and C740 Chromebooks are sturdy notebooks contained in reinforced covers capable of withstanding up to 60kg (132 pounds) of force, with the corners able to survive drops of up to 45 centimeters (17.7 inches) without damage, making the computers highly durable.

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Hands On: Toca Kitchen 2 (iOS)

01/21, 10:54am

Let your child explore their inner chef with Toca Kitchen 2

Not every game needs to have a set objective. The reason games like Minecraft have done so well is because they encourage players to do whatever feels fun for them. Toca Boca is known for creating games for iOS that capitalize on this feature. Like most Toca Boca AB games, Toca Kitchen 2 is objectiveless, and focuses more on role play and silliness than anything else.

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Texas 'brain-training' firm settles with FTC over game claims

01/21, 1:57am

Focus Eduction forced to drop unproven boast to improve childrens' concentration

A posting by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today describes a settlement between it and Texas software developer, Focus Education. The complaint, filed by the FTC, was over statements made by Focus on its website and infomercials regarding the benefits of playing its iFocus System "brain training" games.

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Khan Academy for iPad gets redesign, full exercise access

01/20, 4:00pm

Mirrors website content

The Khan Academy iOS app has been given a newly redesigned iPad interface, and access to the same range of course content as the service's website. This includes not just videos -- which were previously available -- but all 150,000-plus learning exercises. Product director Matt Wahl notes that this is "where the majority of people spend their time" with Khan.

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Apple remembers MLK on federal holiday in rare honor

01/19, 6:16pm

Image comes from famous 'I Have a Dream' speech in 1963

Apple has given over its US "landing page" on its website to the memory and commemoration of assassinated civil right leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the rare times the company has honored an individual. Using an #MLK hashtag, Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted the theme of the image, which is taken from King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech delivered in Washington, DC a little over 51 years ago: "Honoring the life and legacy" of Dr. King, one of Cook's oft-named inspirations.

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Hands On: Duckie Deck Bird Houses (iOS)

01/17, 10:15am

Preschoolers build birdhouses in this fun interactive game

Games for the under-five crew tend to be a mixed bag. Sometimes the games are too hard, requiring difficult-to-grasp concepts like timed tapping or difficult puzzle-solving. Other times the games are often too simple, and are more like movies. One game that has managed to strike a good balance between engaging and simple is Duckie Deck Bird Houses, by Duckie Deck Development.

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Hands On: Simple Rockets (iOS)

01/16, 7:39am

Take off into space with this fun rocket builder

The fun of space travel has long been reserved for astronauts and rocket scientists, which seems a little unfair sometimes. In 1970s television, we were promised routine space travel by the 21st century, which we clearly haven't gotten yet. How many of us have thought about how fun it would be to take off and soar through space, or wanted to design a rocket that could explore the furthest reaches of space? Not everyone is a rocket scientist, but with Simple Rockets by developer Jundroo, everyone gets the chance to design their own rocket.

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Briefly: new Google Classroom app, Drive desktop app updated

01/15, 5:44pm

Google Classroom launches apps for iOS and Android

Google has released iOS and Android apps to accompany its Google Classroom web platform. Initially launched last summer, Google Classroom allows teachers to create and collect assignments paperlessly, available to anyone with Google Apps for Education. The new native Classroom app for iOS and Android broadens the capacity for teachers and students to connect with each other, and features photo sharing, sharing content from other apps and offline caching.

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Hands On: Toca Hair Salon 2 (iOS)

01/13, 12:16pm

Release your inner cosmetologist with this fun hair salon app

Makeover apps tend to be somewhat serious, and are generally geared toward adults. Instead of being a fun game, they tend to be more akin to photo-editing software, which is generally pretty complex and low on the amusement scale. Toca Boca, however, has stepped forth with Toca Hair Salon 2, a makeover game that offers a lot to younger gamers or future beauticians.

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LA schools' iPad program flawed from beginning, federal report says

01/13, 9:52am

Problems included finances, heavy dependence on Apple ecosystem

The Los Angeles Unified School District's failed iPad deployment was botched early on, according to a review by the US Education Department. The federal agency says that the LAUSD put too hard an emphasis on using Apple hardware and software, ignoring cheaper options that could have saved money for the district and taxpayers. In July the LAUSD said it was shifting to a strategy involving Chromebooks and Windows devices, such as the Microsoft Surface.

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Hands On: Learn Spanish - Brainscape (iOS)

01/13, 7:33am

Bolster your Spanish vocabulary with targeted flashcard app

It's a fact that Spanish is the world's fourth most-spoken language, with over 350 million native speakers across 21 countries. It's also a fact that people who are bilingual tend to do better in both academic pursuits as well as their career. If you've ever been curious about learning another language, Learn Spanish by Brainscape offers a solution for those who are trying to learn Spanish on the go.

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Apple opens Games For Kids section of App Store over weekend

01/12, 2:53am

Parents gain new one-stop category, but in-app purchases still lurk

Over the weekend, Apple launched a new subsection of the App Store called Games for Kids, following the opening of the dedicated Kids category in September 2013. The Games for Kids section breaks out groups of games for various age groups, mirroring the other actions that offer more educational apps for children divided by age. Interestingly, most of the featured games avoid in-app purchases.

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Hands On: Toca Mini (iOS)

01/05, 8:53pm

Design cute critters with your toddler set using Toca Mini

One of the best parts about video games is character customization. Upon starting a game, we're given a blank slate to turn into whatever we want. There's something undeniably fun and very personal about designing a character, which is why the option is given in so many games. What if there was a game that was centered only around character customization, allowing you to create an endless stream of different characters? Developer Toca Boca AB has created Toca Mini, a game that promises to help scratch that itch, at least for the younger users.

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Hands on: Duckie Deck Collection (iOS)

01/04, 12:19pm

A fun game for little gamers to play on their own

There are tons of games available for elementary-age students in the App Store, and most center around simple puzzle-solving and basic game play. However, parents of younger children might not realize that there are also games available for toddlers. One such game is Duckie Deck Collection, by Duckie Deck Development, which aims to entertain even the youngest gamers.

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More iOS App deals for those last-minute gifts (updated Saturday)

12/27, 11:35am

Or how to use up all those iTunes gift cards you're going to get

Although we have mentioned some app bargains in our "beyond the last minute" gift guide this morning, the elves at MacNN and Electronista have been hunting up some additional discounts by shaking the App Store tree and seeing what falls out. We found a few more, so click through to save a bundle on some awesome app deals -- and don't forget to check back with us regularly for DealNN reports, Apple refurb store bargains, and our usual Friday Deals all year long!

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Hands On: Sago Mini Road Trip (iOS)

12/12, 7:36am

Kids take the wheel in a fun pre-K game

Keeping younger kids entertained on long road trips isn't always easy. Parents often sacrifice their sanity by employing kids-themed entertainment, forcing them to choose between a fussy toddler or ten different renditions of "Old McDonald." Instead of attempting to distract kids with the same ten songs they've heard since birth, why not try Sago Mini Road Trip, by developer Sago Sago, and allow kids to take control of the wheel?

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Apple Stores to host Hour of Code workshops December 11

12/04, 2:20pm

Berlin, London, Tokyo getting related events same week

Apple has announced a series of hour-long US programming workshops meant to support Code.org's Hour of Code, and Computer Science Education Week, which runs from December 8-14. The workshops themselves are being held at Apple Stores on December 11, aimed at teaching children the basics of writing code. Parents must registerfor a spot through Apple's website.

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Pennsylvania school district uses Apple donation to buy iPads

12/03, 1:49pm

Administrators still working out how to best use tablets

The board for Pennsylvania's Steel Valley School District has voted to use a $291,791 donation from Apple CEO Tim Cook to buy iPads for district students, and train teachers on the technology, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The donation was announced in September in honor of Bill Campbell, a former member of Apple's board of directors. The cash was only accepted this week, however, and the iPads won't be formally deployed until the 2015-2016 school year.

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Los Angeles USD visited by FBI over iPad contract, documents seized

12/02, 10:30pm

FBI leaves with 20 boxes of documents, school district officially terminates contract

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) visited the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on Monday in relation to an investigation of the latter's botched iPad program. The Common Core Technology Project attempted to bring iPads to each student in the 47 schools in the district, but drew scrutiny based on the way the district handled the implementation under former Superintendent John Deasy.

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Apple Stores offer red logo for World AIDS Day

12/01, 7:16pm

Raises awareness alongside 'Apps for (RED)' promotion

Following a promotional push to raise money for the Global Fund, using the "Apps for (RED)" even on the App Store to offer discounted prices or in-app purchases to help fund the fight against AIDs and other diseases, Apple on Monday tinted many of its iconic signs at its retail locations red to commemorate World AIDS Day, which is held every year on December 1. The tradition began in 2012 after Tim Cook became the CEO of the company, and follows precedents established by others since at least 1991.

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Hands On: Snoopy's All Star Football (iOS)

11/26, 7:44am

Hit the gridiron with the Peanuts gang

Cupcake Digital is a well-known name in the ring of games for elementary-age children. To date, they've created games for children's entertainment titles such as Yo Gabba Gabba, Wow! Wow! Wubbsy, and Strawberry Shortcake. The company is now tackling two American classics, Peanuts and football, in Snoopy's All Star Football. Is the game worth handing to your little ones, or is it the digital equivalent of Lucy pulling the football away at the last minute?

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Hands On: Star Walk (iOS)

11/13, 9:04pm

Augmented reality app cuts through clouds to expose the sky's full glory

Whether a person is an astronomy buff, or just someone who enjoys the feeling they get when they look up at a sky full of stars, there is something undeniably serene about stargazing. However, it isn't always easy to tell just what someone may be looking at what they look at the night sky. If you're looking for a way to make this activity far more enjoyable, we have found the ideal night-time companion. Star Walk for the iPhone, or Star Walk HD for the iPad, is the perfect guide to at-home astronomy.

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Hands On: The Great Photo App (iOS)

11/13, 7:35am

Guide to perfect picture taking encapsulated for the iOS

Let's face it, photography is daunting. With a slew of terms and techniques that are less than user-friendly, and an ever-increasing amount of gadgetry to attempt to master, it's not exactly something one can jump right into and do well out of the gate. However, The Great Photo App by Baglan Dosmagambetov is aiming to make sense of all photography has to offer, and pass this information on to the user -- with Apple's handheld devices as the teacher.

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Apple Device Enrollment Program adds resold devices, new countries

11/12, 9:05am

Option now available in 26 regions

Apple has expanded its institution-oriented Device Enrollment Program to support devices bought through authorized resellers and carriers, and to cover a total of 26 regions. The DEP simplifies centralized setup and management of iOS and OS X devices, something critical for mass deployments. Businesses and schools can set up administrative accounts and management servers, and even have user profiles and configurations ready the moment a user activates their device.

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Hands on: Worldly (iOS)

11/11, 2:37pm

App helps to educate users on world geography in quiz-show form

Geography isn't terribly easy subject for most, what with there being almost 200 different countries in the world. Rote memorization can become tedious at best and frustrating at worst, deterring even the most studious of people. Worldly, an app by developer Supergonk, aims to help players learn more about the world around them by making geography a game instead of a chore.

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Hands On: Dragonbox Algebra 12+ (iOS)

10/29, 7:45am

Friendly, immersive Algebra training for children

Educational Apps aren't in short supply, and most parents with iPads, iPods, and iPhones likely have the devices filled filled to the brim with the latest and greatest miracle apps that promise to teach their children all sorts of things. However, to stumble across an app that is truly engaging and capable of teaching children skills that directly translate into the classroom is somewhat of a rarity. That being said, DragonBox Algebra 12+ by WeWantToKnow delivers an app that is fun to play while simultaneously teaching children the core rules of Algebra.

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New Apple webpage touts company's ConnectED participation

10/27, 3:21pm

Says 114 schools getting iPads, MacBooks, Apple TVs

Apple has launched a minisite promoting the company's involvement in the US federal government's ConnectED initiative. The program is concerned with getting better Internet access and computing equipment to underfunded schools, and Apple has pledged some $100 million. Newly revealed in the minisite is that Apple's grants have reached 114 schools in 29 states, and that 92 percent of the students at those schools "are of Hispanic, Black, Native American, Alaskan Native, or Asian heritage."

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Apple launches mini-site promoting Swift programming language

10/21, 12:27am

Shows example apps made using Swift, notes colleges adding the language

Continuing its effort to promote its own streamlined object-oriented programming code Swift, Apple has followed up from its Swift blog with a full-blown mini-site on Apple.com. The new site takes a similar approach to Apple's dedicated mini-sites for education and business, highlighting some of the many apps now built using swift and featuring case studies, profiles and links to tutorials and free resources. The new promotional mini-site is in addition to the regular Swift developer site.

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Apple paid over $1M to stage September 9 iPhone event, records show

10/15, 12:34pm

Included 24-hour police security, $500,000 'disruption fee'

Apple paid in excess of $1 million to stage its September 9 iPhone/Apple Watch announcement, according to newly-obtained records from the Foothill-De Anza Community College district. The publicity event was held at De Anza College's Flint Center for the Performing Arts, where the Mac was premiered in 1984, and the iMac was shown off in 1998. The records state that Apple paid De Anza a $500,000 "disruption fee," plus rental fees for campus buildings, and still more money to enforce security using more than 35 police officers from three departments.

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Briefly: Splot platformer iOS game, Tiggly's iPad compatible math toy

10/07, 4:36pm

Frozenbyte to release Spot platformer game for iOS October 23

Finnish game developer Frozenbyte has announced the upcoming release of its new platformed game, Splot. Players follow the story of a blue alien, Splot, who crashes onto an unfamiliar planet along with his adversaries, the Hungry Blobs. Splot sets out to rescue a native population of birds that are being eaten by the Blobs. Playable on three different difficulties though 56 levels, gameplay consists of fast-paced platforming with the goal of reaching captured birds before they are eaten.

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Survey: iPads now the top consumer brand among kids 6-12

10/06, 11:05pm

Beats out McDonald's, Toys R Us, Disney thanks in part to schools, parents

Since it was introduced nearly five years ago, the iPad has made a huge cultural impact on families, schools and seniors, but the full extent of the influence on the former two groups has been made more obvious in a new survey of children ages 6-12 conducted by youth and family research firm Smarty Pants. The 2014 edition of the firm's "Young Love" survey found that the iPad was the highest-rated brand name with children and families, beating out 255 other iconic contenders including Nickelodeon, Disney and McDonald's.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month donation option appears on iTunes Store

10/01, 1:56am

First non-disaster donation portal, will be active throughout October

City of Hope, a research and treatment charity focused on cancer and diabetes among other life-threatening illnesses, will be the recipient of donations given by iTunes users through a new portal on the iTunes Store and available for iOS, Mac and Windows users. The move, the first time Apple has set up a donation system for a non-disaster relief organization, is in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and will be available throughout October.

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Streaming version of Adobe Photoshop coming to Chrome OS, browser

09/29, 3:09pm

Partnership takes its first step to bring Creative Cloud to Chromebooks

Photographers and artists holding off on buying a Chromebook because of the lack of program options may have one more reason to reconsider in the future. A partnership between Adobe and Google was announced today, taking steps towards bringing the subscription-based Creative Cloud suite to Chrome OS. To start out, a streaming version of Photoshop will be brought to the inexpensive notebooks.

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Yahoo trims away more fat, three services shutting down before 2015

09/28, 1:37pm

Directory, Education and Qwiki to be shuttered to better align with company vision

In the last two years, Yahoo has made a large number of changes to its core business, acquiring more than 40 companies to bolster various division of the company or open new areas of business. However, the company also ended more than 60 products in order to refine its vision since coming under the leadership of CEO Marissa Mayer. To that effect, Yahoo states three other products are coming to the end of their lives, as Yahoo Education, Directory and Qwiki will be closing down before 2015.

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Macs top over one quarter of US share during back-to-school PC sales

09/24, 11:01am

Chromebook, Mac gains come at expense of still-dominant Windows

During the span between July 4 and Labor Day -- the peak of the back-to-school shopping season -- Macs accounted for 26.8 percent of all US computer sales, according to NPD tracking data. That amount is a 14 percent increase year-over-year, and contrasts with a three percent dip for Windows PCs. Windows remains the leading computer platform, however, with 68.4 percent of the market.

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Apple updates security policies in Cook open letter, stresses privacy

09/18, 3:10am

Security, user data respect seen as differentiators from rival companies

Late on Wednesday, Apple updated its privacy policy web page to feature a letter from CEO Tim Cook outlining new security initiatives, and reiterating the company's recent message that the iPhone maker is in the business of selling products, rather than harvesting data about users in order to target and sell advertising -- and consequently, takes pains to avoid collecting any unnecessary data. In the letter, Cook says that security and privacy are "fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services."

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Apple updates first-party apps with iOS 8 support, minor improvements

09/17, 1:47pm

iTunes U gets ability to add deadlines to Calendar

In tandem with the release of iOS 8, Apple has also begun updating its optional first-party apps with fresh support. These include Podcasts, iTunes U, Remote, and Find My iPhone. Other apps should be updated shortly.

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Full Charlie Rose interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook now posted

09/16, 9:42pm

Show website features full interview in two parts, includes talk of Jobs, diversity, innovation

A nearly two-hour conversation with Apple CEO Tim Cook covering a wide variety of topics is now available in full from the Charlie Rose show website as well as PBS' own Hulu channel. Excerpts from the interview are also available on PBS' iOS app. The sit down discussion with Rose was filmed almost immediately after Cook unveiled the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the Apple Watch and the Apple Pay mobile payments system.

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Apple publishes guide for Android data transfer to iOS devices

09/16, 7:05pm

Company confident that new larger iPhones will attract switchers

With its combination of more and better apps, better security and now large-screen mobile devices, Apple is expecting the new iPhone and iOS 8 to help persuade more Android users to move up to iOS, and to that end has published a document on its website guiding switchers on how to move content from their Android device to the iPhone. The expectation isn't based on hubris: surveys have shown that at least a third of Android users would consider switching to the iPhone 6 family.

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Doximity: Doctors a prime market for fast iPhone 6 adoption

09/15, 3:16am

Traditionally quick to upgrade, new health features may increase adoption further

Although it is not surprising to learn that Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad have an above-average adoption rate among medical professionals, new information from a networking site devoted to doctors has shed new insight on the relationship between Apple and the medical field. Doximity, described by Forbes as a "LinkedIn for doctors," reports that of its 300,000 member database, some 85 percent of doctors carry iPhones -- and they tend to upgrade to new models very quickly.

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Cook addresses celebrity images scandal, promises improvements

09/04, 11:59pm

Photos not obtained by iCloud breach, but by password hacking

Apple CEO Tim Cook has formally addressed the recent celebrity selfies scandal, where some of the images obtained by hackers came from the victims' iCloud accounts (alongside other services, those responsible for the collection of the images have recently admitted). In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Cook not only acknowledged that some celebrities' accounts were specifically targeted using conventional data-stealing techniques, but promised both educational and engineering improvements.

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Apple opens 'Product Integrity Inclusion and Diversity' scholarship

09/02, 5:07pm

Offers US minorities $10,000 towards tech education

Apple has launched a new "Product Integrity Inclusion and Diversity" scholarship, according to the company's job listings page. The program is named after Apple's Product Integrity group, and offers successful minority applicants up to $10,000 towards a technology education. "To be eligible, applicants must be women, black/African American, Hispanic, or Native American students who are attending an accredited US university and continuing their education in Fall 2015," the company writes.

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Briefly: LinkedIn retires InMaps, BBC's kids' coding, computing shows

09/02, 1:00am

LinkedIn retires visualization tool InMaps

Professional networking platform LinkedIn has discontinued its InMaps visualization tool. Citing the need to focus on new ways to visualize users' professional network, InMaps officially retired September 1. The feature was first launched in January 2011, and allowed for viewing different clusters in one's network and color code them as to see where crossovers and separations appeared.

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Briefly: Original Bioshock for iOS, Notability app comes to Mac

08/28, 7:06pm

Note-taking iOS app Notability jumps to OS X, offers iCloud syncing

Notability, an iOS app well-regarded for its ability to handle multiple ways of taking notes -- audio recordings, handwriting, drag-and-drop and typing -- has arrived on the Mac. The OS X version ($10) matches the iPad and iPhone version feature-for-feature, but is optimized for the Mac environment. Users can drag in various file types to add to the note, scale and transform handwriting and sketches, and -- new to the program -- work with smart keyboard shortcuts. The iOS version is also available as a separate $3 purchase.

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WSJ: Apple, Pearson to re-bid on LA school district tablet program

08/27, 8:51pm

Original deal tainted with cost overruns, conflicts of interest, other issues

The Wall Street Journal has confirmed that both Apple and educational curriculum and textbook publisher Pearson will re-bid on a new contract to supply the LA United School District (LAUSD) with computer and tablet options as part of a program that could eventually grow to $500 million. Both companies were the core of the previous contract that would have seen all students receiving iPads, but questions of cost overruns, problems and lack of transparency combined to force the district to cancel that arrangement.

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Apple on Campus program no longer available in Belgium, Switzerland

08/27, 1:33pm

Online store discounts 'still valid'

The Apple on Campus program -- which lets students buy discounted Macs and accessories through their school -- has been halted in Belgium and Switzerland, according to Apple officials. "Yes, Apple on Campus was stopped. However, the Apple Education Store discounts are obviously still valid," says a spokesperson for Apple Switzerland. Those prices are not as cheap as those that were available through Apple on Campus, however. One exception to the discontinuations is a program in Switzerland known as Neptune.

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Minnesota set to deploy 40,000 iPads to students

08/27, 1:07am

Program will also include 1,000 MacBook models, rise to $8 million per year

Even as questions arise about the LA Unified School District's handling of its botched and now-abandoned iPad program, Apple continues to win school districts over to the tablet. The St. Paul School District in Minnesota is launching a program that will offer tens of thousands of iPads to students in a total of 61 schools over time, with an initial rollout to 37 schools in the city. The district is leasing the equipment from Apple, which includes up to 1,000 unspecified MacBook models.

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LA Unified School District halts further use of iPads

08/26, 10:47am

Superintendent, deputy had close links to Apple, Pearson

The superintendent of Los Angeles' Unified School District, John Deasy, has formally suspended future implementation of an iPad contract with Apple. "Moving forward, we will no longer utilize our current contract with Apple," he writes in a memo issued to the Board of Education. "Not only will this decision enable us to take advantage of an ever-changing marketplace and technology advances, it will also give us time to take into account concerns raised surrounding the [project]."

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