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Top Stories  |   (Mar 04, 2015)

Apple Watch: plethora of details leak as public debut nears

Code name, new features, availability outside of US comes to light

As the publicity machine shifts into high gear in preparation for the public debut of the Apple Watch on March 9, new details and additional features, applications and other bits of information are making their way into the press. The codename for the project, for example, was "Gizmo," reports The New York Times . Among other revelations are the role that former Adobe Flash chief Kevin Lynch played, power-saving and style details, and the news that the watch will also launch abroad in its first month.

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Google+ to split into Photos, Hangouts

The rebranding will focus on two popular features

Google+ is reportedly approaching a transformation, with a renewed focus on Photos and Hangouts. The two popular features appear to be splitting apart from the central service , marking the first step in an apparent rebranding effort that is likely aimed at revitalizing Google's stagnate social network.

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Panasonic Nubo camera surveils via 4G

Standalone monitoring camera does not require Wi-Fi

Panasonic has introduced the Nubo, a new surveillance camera that is claimed to be the first with built-in 4G connectivity. Buyers can already choose from a wide range of cameras connected via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, however the Nubo taps into an unaddressed niche market for monitoring in places where a Wi-Fi connection is not available.

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Android Pay to serve as Google's answer to Apple Pay

Pay API will be used for app integration

Google is finally ready to enter the mobile payment arena, today introducing a payment platform known as Android Pay. The platform will be available via an API framework, with support for NFC and biometric authentication, allowing developers to creatively integrate the feature into a wide range of third-party apps.

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Google confirms plans for MVNO wireless service

MVNO promises not to take on the big three carriers

Google has confirmed plans to offer its own wireless service in the US market. The company will establish itself as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) using existing carrier networks, according to a plan outlined by product chief Sundar Pichai today at Mobile World Congress.

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Silent Circle intros secure Blackphone 2, Blackphone Plus tablet

Second-gen phone improves enterprise integration

Privacy company Silent Circle has revealed the second-generation Blackphone and announced plans for a security-focused Blackphone+ tablet. The Blackphone 2 features a range of hardware upgrades, but many business buyers will also welcome expanded support for enterprise mobile-device management systems such as Citrix.

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MacNN Podcast Episode 4: Net Neutrality, Leonard Nimoy, Apple Watch

The MacNN Podcast for March 2, 2015

The MacNN Podcast hits its fourth airing and touches on the hot button issues in the tech world! Join this week's hosts, MacNN Editor Charles Martin, alongside staff writer Michelle Elbert, and Managing Editor Mike Wuerthele as they discuss the events that got our attention, needed further discussion, or just plain tickled our fancy.

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Sony Xperia M4 Aqua targets midrange smartphone market

Sony style with an accessible price point

Sony has expanded its Xperia smartphone lineup, adding the M4 Aqua this week at Mobile World Congress. The company is not shy about labelling it a midrange Android device, promising that all of the popular features and capabilities remain mostly intact, despite its lower price tag.

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Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 takes calls upside down

The slim phone is available two screen sizes

Alcatel has introduced the latest model in its OneTouch smartphone lineup, the Idol 3 , which will be available in two screen sizes. Making its debut at Mobile World Congress, the Idol 3 features a unique 'reversible' function that allows users to take phone calls or navigate the interface when the device is upside down.

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Huawei's 7-inch MediaPad X2 brings dual-SIM, octa-core

The tablet supports 300Mbps LTE

Huawei has introduced the seven-inch MediaPad X2 tablet at Mobile World Congress. The company promotes the MediaPad X1's successor as suitable for use as a phone, with dual SIM slots and a thin-bezel housing that measures just 7.3mm thick. The second generation promises to deliver improved call quality, enhanced software and better camera and video features.

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Samsung unveils flagship Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge smartphones

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge follows Note edge in putting display on smartphone sides

Just as expected , Samsung has launched two flagship smartphones at its Unpacked event today. The Galaxy S6 is the latest update to the long-standing Galaxy S line , while the Galaxy S6 edge improves upon the expanded screen concept introduced with the Galaxy Note Edge last year, but this time Samsung has curved the screen around both sides of the device, giving users an even wider display.

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Acer reveals upgraded Liquid Leap Plus

The new Leap works with iOS, Android and Windows Phone

Acer has introduced an updated version of its fitness tracker, now known as the Liquid Leap+. The device offers all of the typical fitness features, in a water-resistant package that retails for less than $90.

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Huawei TalkBand B2 doubles as a Bluetooth earpiece

The B2 brings an upscale design and new features

Huawei has introduced a new fitness tracker, the TalkBand B2 , that made its debut alongside the company's new smartwatch at Mobile World Congress. Serving as a successor to the TalkBand B1 , the B2 edition again doubles as a fitness wristband and a Bluetooth earpiece.

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Huawei Watch pairs traditional design with Android Wear

The timepiece looks like a traditional wristwatch

Huawei has introduced its flagship Android Wear device, simply known as the Watch . The company has called on traditional timepiece designers to help with industrial design. The result resembles a typical wristwatch, until the display flips from a clock face to an app interface.

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HTC One M9 launches with rear 20-megapixel camera, 1080p display

Physical design of HTC One M9 remains relatively unchanged from previous model

HTC has just used its Utopia in Progress event to launch the latest iteration in its One smartphone range. The HTC One M9 is similar to the earlier M7 and M8 devices , housing a 5-inch 1080p display in a familiar two-tone metal unibody design with front-mounted BoomSound speakers, though they now have Dolby Audio processing to provide 5.1-channel surround sound.

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FCC approves net neutrality, Title II proposal in 3-2 vote

Fight likely to continue in House, Senate over depth of FCC power

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the net neutrality rules, including Title II regulation of Internet Service Providers as proposed by FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, with minor modifications. The vote wasn't unanimous, nor was it expected to be, and predictably split across party lines. The two Democratic members and the Chair voted to approve the contentious policy, and the two Republican members voted against it.

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Pebble Time launches on Kickstarter with color screen, microphone

Successor to Pebble smartwatch uses new timeline interface

Pebble has unveiled its second generation of smartwatch, the Pebble Time , as a wearable device featuring an upgraded color e-paper display. Repeating what the company did for the original Pebble smartwatch, the Pebble Time is being made available through Kickstarter, with the crowdfunding campaign exceeding its goal barely after it launched.

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Editorial: iCar or Apple moonshot?

There are many reasons Apple might invest in automotive research

There are a lot of rumors floating around that Apple is working on a car. While on one hand it may seem far-fetched, it is not beyond the realm of possibility. Apple works on lots of projects, many of which never see the light of day. There are a litany of Apple patents that have emerged over the years - of products or ideas that have not materialized as shipping products - that testify to this.

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Apple is world's most admired company for eighth year running

Fortune ranking follows others, achieves top score in all scoring categories

For the eighth year running, Apple has again captured the title of "World's Most Admired Company," according to the annual survey from Fortune . The magazine had previously also honored Apple by naming it the world's most valuable brand; competitor Barron's had recently named it the world's most respected company. The award reflects the voting of some 4,104 executives, directors, and securities analysts.

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Lenovo shipped PCs with adware pre-installed at the factory

Ad-injection, monitoring of secure connections discovered in Superfish adware

Lenovo has been shipping PCs from its factory with adware pre-installed, according to reports. Notebooks from the manufacturer have been found to have Superfish software already installed without user intervention nor permission, with the software being used to inject extra advertising into websites, as well as being a potential security risk for end users.

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Kaspersky uncovers hacker group that infects hard drive firmware

Equation Group claimed to have attacked major targets in over 30 countries

A secretive hacking collective that has been active for almost two decades has allegedly been uncovered by Kaspersky Lab. Dubbed the "Equation Group," because of their use of encryption algorithms and obfuscation methods, the hackers are apparently unique in that they created highly-professional tools and used "classic spying techniques" to retrieve data and affect systems used by high-value targets, such as governments, major national organizations, and other political targets.

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Hands On: New Nintendo 3DS XL

Nintendo delivers a compelling upgrade to its glasses-free 3D gaming platform

If you thought that handheld gaming consoles like those from Nintendo have tanked following the rise of smartphones, you'd be wrong. In fact, following the introduction of the Nintendo 3DS in 2011, Nintendo has shifted over 50 million 3DS or 3DS XL consoles, demonstrating that there is still a large audience that likes physical controls and a deeper gaming experience. Giving its handheld product line a shot in the arm, Nintendo has given both the 3DS and 3DS XL a revamp, bringing some genuinely worthwhile feature upgrades. So does the Nintendo 3DS still warrant your consideration in 2015?

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MacNN Podcast: Apple Pay, great apps, huge iPhones, Tesla, and more

The MacNN Podcast for February 16, 2015

The MacNN Podcast hits its second episode and engages on a wide variety of topics! Join this week's hosts, MacNN Editor Charles Martin, alongside staff writer Michelle Elbert, reviewer William Gallagher, and news writer Malcolm Owen as they discuss the events that got our attention, needed further discussion, or just plain tickled our fancy.

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FAA proposes rules for commercial drone flights

Proposals rule out drone-based delivery services

Drones performing deliveries for retailers will not be offered to consumers any time in the near future, if proposals from the US Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA ) are adopted. The initial proposals for "small unmanned aircraft systems" would in theory allow for the commercial use of the remote-controlled aircraft, but not to a point where Amazon's drone delivery service would become a reality in the United States.

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US government adopting Apple Pay through GSA, point of sale locations

Initiative launches in September, massive transaction volume expected

At today's Cyber Security conference at California's Stanford University, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage. As part of the appearance, the White House and Cook announced that Apple Pay would be enabled for users of federal payment cards, including all benefits that are paid out through debit cards. Additionally, the Apple payment service would be accepted at National parks and similar venues.

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Hands On: BrydgeAir Bluetooth keyboard for iPad Air

BrydgeAir stands out from the Bluetooth keyboard accessory crowd

The market for keyboard accessories for tablets like the iPad is extensive, whether Apple likes it or not. That Apple hasn't released an equivalent accessory to speaks volumes about the typical ergonomics of these kinds of accessories. The best option that we have found to date is to marry an iPad with the Incase Origami and one of Apple's wireless keyboards, although it is not the most integrated solution. Does the BrydgeAir Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad Air offer a better, more integrated solution?

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AAPL breaks new high of $122, now at $710B market cap

Apple holds new record as first company to pass $700 billion

During Tim Cook's interview at an investor's conference today in San Francisco, Goldman Sachs President and COO Gary Cohn told Cook that his company, Apple, had become the first publicly-traded company to ever top $700 billion in market capitalization, and the stock also closed the day at a new record high of $122.02 per share. The peaks come just a under a week after the previous all-time high last Wednesday , following a record-shattering holiday quarter.

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Hands On: ShoulderPod S1 Smartphone Camera Rig

ShoulderPod S1 is a great accessory for smartphone camera enthusiasts

One of the many conveniences of today's smartphones is their ability to be used as quality point-and-shoot cameras when on-the-go. However, as convenient to use as they are, taking images of the sort that you see in smartphone marketing materials can be difficult if you are just trying to hold your camera in your hands to take your snaps. If you are serious about taking better photos and more steady hand-held movies, the ShoulderPod S1 smartphone camera rig may be just what you have been looking for.

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RadioShack files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Up to 1,750 RadioShack stores to be co-branded Sprint, according to filing

Electronics retailer RadioShack has applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Following a week of speculation , the troubled company filed its papers earlier today, and confirmed plans to sell off a large proportion of its stores to Sprint and Standard General, one which will provide the carrier with a considerable boost to its overall outlet count.

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FCC Chair Wheeler formally announces Title II regulation proposal

Proposal to be submitted for FCC discussion before end of the week

Officially launching what will become a highly-contentious fight in Washington DC, US Federal Communications Commission commissioner Tom Wheeler has officially stated that he is submitting "the strongest open Internet protections ever proposed by the FCC," which calls for the banning of paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. The move by the chairman was expected, with AT&T and Verizon both threatening lawsuits to block the regulation.

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