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Microsoft’s latest Mac app is a toolbar for Office 365

Microsoft’s Garage team has a new tool designed to make using Office 365 on your Mac a little easier. My Workspace is a menu bar that offers quick access to pinned documents, OneDrive files, your iCloud calendar and Skype calls. The tool sits in the system tray and is pretty unobtrusive, as you can see in the embedded video. As iMore notes, the tool was designed by interns in Vancouver who were tasked with a way to “add value to a person’s day” if the person was using Redmond’s productivity suite. Interested? Check out the download links below.

Via: iMore

Source: My Workspace


‘Arms’ update adds user-customizable controls

Nintendo announced today on Twitter that the Switch fighting game Arms is getting an update that will probably make a lot of players pretty happy. With version 3, Arms will let users map the controls to the buttons they prefer, which is good since a number of Arms players have found the set configurations to be a bit unintuitive. You can see how the control customization feature will work in the tweet below.

Big news, fighting fans! #ARMS Ver. 3 will allow you to remap the controls to the buttons of your choice! How’s that for flexibility?

— Nintendo UK (@NintendoUK) September 8, 2017

Another character is also on the way. Lola Pop is a candy-coated clown who can inflate her body like a balloon as a defense tactic. Check out her trailer below. There’s no word yet on when version 3 will be released, but Nintendo says it will be out soon.

Via: Polygon

Source: Nintendo


Zelle’s bank-backed payments app launches September 12th

We’ve been talking about Zelle, a mobile payments system backed by over 30 major US banks, for over a year now, but the service has yet to release a standalone app. That is, until now. Zelle’s app is finally launching on Tuesday, September 12th. It will be available in the App Store and on Google Play.

Zelle has also put a special partnership with Mastercard and Visa into play with its app. If you have one of these two branded debit cards in connection with a US bank account, you can send money through the Zelle mobile app, regardless of whether the recipient’s bank participates in Zelle. You can also continue to use the Venmo competitor through your bank’s mobile app, using a phone number or email address to send money. The standalone app just provides more options for Zelle’s network.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Zelle


The best media streaming devices

By Chris Heinonen

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

The best media streaming device for most people is the updated Roku Streaming Stick. It’s as fast to use as any streamer available and has a wider selection of apps than others offer. And unlike its main competitors, Roku doesn’t try to sell content from its own store; rather than prioritizing one streaming service over another within its interface, it lets you customize what it displays to suit your preferences.

Why you might want a streaming device

We tested all the major streaming boxes on the market. Photo: Chris Heinonen

Streaming devices have the ability to play far more content than what most TVs or Blu-ray players offer. Support for newer streaming services such as HBO Now and Sling TV also comes to streaming boxes before it comes to TVs. Streaming boxes can also give you easy access to local content you already own and play it on any TV in your house, without needing to hook up a PC to your display. They also tend to have a better user experience, with more channels, a more responsive user interface, and better search features than the streaming services built into your TV.

A good streaming device also has a well-organized search feature that helps you find your content for the lowest price possible. Many streaming devices search across a limited number of services or prioritize content from a source where they earn income. For instance, the Amazon Fire Stick puts Amazon content at the top of the screen. The best streamers search through more services and provide both free and pay options to help you find your content at the lowest price.

Our pick

Photo: Chris Heinonen

The Roku Streaming Stick is the fastest 1080p streamer available, offers the widest selection of content and the best interface, search, and user experience. The only major service missing is iTunes, but Apple doesn’t open that to anyone. And when new services launch, Roku is typically among the first—if not the first—to offer support. It has a great search feature that organizes content by price, helping you easily find the least expensive source, and you can customize the look of the interface to place your favorite apps at the top.

It is HDMI-only, so you’re out of luck if you own an older TV with only component video. The Roku Streaming Stick also doesn’t do well with local media playback, having completely dropped the local USB port (the built-in USB port is for power only). Your best option for local playback on a Roku is to use Plex on a computer or NAS device along with the Plex app on the Roku.


Photo: Chris Heinonen

The December 2016 update to the Fire TV Stick added voice search using Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, and even better, the search feature now encompasses more services, including Netflix, Amazon, HBO, and over 75 apps in total. The included remote has a microphone for this updated search feature, and it also supports most things Alexa can do from an Echo or Dot, including home control.

The updated Amazon Fire TV interface is a huge improvement over previous versions. The main page now has rows for different apps, including Netflix, showing you the most recent titles you’ve watched there. Previously only Amazon content was pushed in this way, making Netflix and other apps second-class citizens. The new interface isn’t perfect, however, as it can’t be customized and you can’t add titles from Netflix to your watch list like you can with Amazon content. But crucially, accessing most of your favorite channels and apps with the Fire TV is as easy as it is with the Roku, sometimes easier.

A pick for UltraHD Streaming

Photo: Chris Heinonen

If you want to stream UltraHD content and your TV or projector lacks support, the Roku Premiere+ is the best option available today. It supports both Netflix and Amazon with HDR and WCG support with more channels being added as HDR content rolls out. It has the same simple interface and search feature as the Roku Streaming Stick.

The Premiere+ has HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2, unlike last year’s Roku 4, so it can do HDR and WCG on displays that support those formats. It includes a responsive RF remote with a headphone jack for private listening. But because we’ve run into a handful of bugs while testing and the Premiere+ can’t currently support Google Play or Hulu at UltraHD resolution, we recommend using the apps inside your UltraHD TV if possible.

A pick for iTunes/Apple users and cord cutters

The Apple TV is great for iTunes users and cord cutters. Photo: Chris Heinonen

If you buy a lot of content from the iTunes Store, or if you want the ability to easily stream your music to your receiver or soundbar from your computer, you should choose the new 32 GB Apple TV instead of a Roku Streaming Stick. It supports almost as many apps as the Roku but lets you play back your iTunes content on your TV. In addition, you can stream audio and video from Apple devices and mirror your iDevice or MacBook on your TV through AirPlay. The latest version includes Siri, a new App Store, and the new TV app, which hosts all of your content in one place, accessible via a single sign-on.

The Apple TV is also the only current streaming device that works with Sling, Playstation Vue, and DirecTV for streaming live channels over the Internet. It can also work with an over-the-air (OTA) tuner like the HDHomeRun. But a few important services are missing, most notably Amazon Instant Video (it was announced at Apple’s 2017 WWDC that an Amazon Prime Video app is on the way), Pandora, Spotify, and Vudu.

A pick for playing back local media

The Shield does the best job with local media playback. Photo: Chris Heinonen

If you play back a lot of local media files, the Nvidia Shield offers the best local file and streaming app support. In tests, it played every single file I tried, including UltraHD or 4K content. It can play content from hard drives and flash drives either locally (via USB) or over a network using apps like VLC or from a Plex server. If you have a large library of local content to stream, it outperforms the other streaming devices out there. You can also use a networked TV tuner to watch live TV through the Shield.

The Shield also works well as a streamer with 4K HDR support (and HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 to go with it) and a large section of services including Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, and Vudu. You can also integrate the Shield with a Plex server to make it easier to share media around your house.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.


Facebook may spend $1 billion on original video in 2018

We’ve been aware of Facebook’s video ambitions for awhile now. Last month, it replaced the “Video” button with a “Watch” tab, which was designed to be the landing page for Facebook’s push into original TV shows. What we didn’t know, though, was just how serious they were about it: The Wall Street Journal reports that the social media giant is willing to spend as much as $1 billion on its new video push.

The company’s goal is to foster original shows that are able to compete with both traditional broadcasters and online streaming companies such as Netflix and Hulu. Presumably, they want the quality of their content to rival their competitors, hence the large spending. The $1 billion is supposed to take the company through the end of 2018.

Facebook has 2 billion members, and while it does make sense that they want to keep people within their platform (see an episode in the Watch tab and then stay within Facebook to discuss it), it’s not clear how well their focus on video will actually work. Up until now, the site has focused on mining YouTube stars for original video, providing an alternative hosting site for people who have proven they have a following. But now, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg appears to be willing to shell out a huge sum of money for original content. Time will tell whether Facebook is successful in this endeavor.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Google’s Dashboard redesign simplifies your privacy tools

Google announced today that its Dashboard feature is getting a big update including a new look and simpler controls. In a statement, the company said that it asked over 4,000 people last year across 15 countries to give them feedback on privacy and security — information that has helped Google tweak its user controls and Dashboard interface.

One of the main changes to Dashboard is improved functionality on touchscreens, making the feature easier to navigate on any device including smartphones. And getting to the overview of every Google product you use and your activity within those products will now be more straightforward, as will downloading that data. Google says Dashboard will also now be better integrated into its other privacy controls like My Activity, My Account, Privacy Checkup and its “download your data” feature. For the latter, users can already export their data to OneDrive and Dropbox and Google says it will be adding additional options like Box soon.

The redesigned Dashboard will start rolling out everywhere beginning next week.


Prosecutors want Shkreli’s bail revoked due to online harassment

On Thursday, US prosecutors petitioned a court to revoke Martin Shkreli’s $5 million bail due to a remark made on Facebook about Hillary Clinton. Prosecutors said it was evidence he posed a “danger to the community.” On September 4th, Shkreli reportedly wrote on Facebook that he would give $5,000 to anyone who grabbed a strand of Clinton’s hair while she was on her book tour.

In court, prosecutors said, “Shkreli has engaged in an escalating pattern of threats and harassment that warrant his detention pending sentencing.” Shkreli is currently out on bail while he awaits sentencing for an August conviction that found him guilty of defrauding hedge fund investors. A hearing will be held on September 14th on the motion to revoke Shkreli’s bail and send him to prison.

Shkreli has become the face of many things including pharma greed and Wu-Tang Clan fan disgust. But he’s on his way to becoming the face of internet harassment as well. This isn’t the first time Shkreli has come under fire for something he said on social media — his Twitter account was suspended earlier this year after he harassed writer Lauren Duca. While both Twitter and Facebook leave much to be desired when it comes to managing harassment, in Shkreli’s case, Twitter took action while he himself took down the Facebook post in question — though only after the Secret Service got involved and a day later than he said he would.

Shkreli’s lawyer told Reuters, “However inappropriate some of Mr. Shkreli’s postings may have been, we do not believe that he intended harm and do not believe that he poses a danger to the community. We take the matter seriously and intend to address the issue responsibly.”

Source: Reuters


Spotify’s music event picks up where Apple left off

Apple may believe that hosting music festivals is old hat, but don’t tell that to Spotify. It just announced Who We Be, an event based around the popular hip-hop and grime playlist (it has 143,000 subscribers) of the same name. The November 30th gathering takes place at London’s Alexandra Palace, and will have some of the UK’s best-known artists from the scene, including Dizzee Rascal (above), Bugzy Malone and Giggs. If you’re intrigued, tickets go on sale 10AM local time on September 11th.

There’s a good chance that you’ll hear (and possibly see) at least some of the performances on Spotify when all is said and done. If nothing else, this could serve as an experiment: are streaming music playlists big enough to be a draw for live shows? Spotify is clearly relying on the gig’s star power more than anything else, but the playlist theme adds a relatively unique spin.

It’s no doubt coincidental that Spotify is announcing Who We Be right as the Apple Music Festival ends, but it illustrates the contrast between the two companies’ attitudes toward live events. Spotify is clearly betting that large, multi-artist events will draw attention where Apple is shifting its focus toward individual artists’ concerts and tours. It’s too soon to say which strategy is best for boosting listener numbers (provided the strategies help at all), but it’s evident that live music tie-ins aren’t about to go away any time soon.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Who We Be, Spotify UK (Twitter)


Review: SanDisk’s iXpand Base Offers an Expensive but Simple iPhone Backup Solution

Western Digital recently introduced its newest SanDisk-branded backup product for iOS devices, the SanDisk iXpand Base, which combines nightly charging with backing up to make for an easy and intuitive way to protect your data.

The idea is to put the iXpand Base on your nightstand, plug it into the wall, and then plug your iPhone into the Lightning port at night. This charges the iPhone and allows it to transfer your photos, videos, and contacts to the Base for the purpose of backing up.


The iXpand Base is a palm-sized tapered surface that’s designed to serve as a sort of platform on which to rest your iPhone while it charges at night. The bottom of the base is made from aluminum, while the top is covered in a soft, textured rubber material that keeps the iPhone securely on its surface.

At the back, there’s an SD card slot that houses an SD card where your backups are stored and there’s a microUSB cable that is attached to a plug that provides power to the Base.

Underneath, there’s a spot for the USB-A side of a Lightning cable to plug in, and you will need to supply your own Lightning cable with this product. Once set up, the Lightning cable plugs into your iPhone and a backup automatically starts upon connection if the accompanying SanDisk iXpand Base app is installed.

Design wise, I’m not sure what to say about the iXpand Base. It’s just a flat, slightly tapered surface where your iPhone sits. It’s not much to look at and adds no utility to the iPhone — I would have preferred to see a dock-style design for a cleaner look and better nightstand functionality.

It doesn’t take up much more space than my iPhone 7 Plus on the table next to my bed (though it is wider), but it looks messy with the white Lightning cable paired with the black cord coming out of the back of the device.

Backing Up

When you have the SanDisk app installed, as soon as you plug the iXpand Base into your iPhone, it will start a backup and begin charging the phone at the same time.

The backup feature scans your last backup, adds new photos and videos, and makes sure you consistently have a full resolution copy of your photos, videos, and contacts.

Unfortunately, the iXpand Base can’t be used when it isn’t plugged into a power source. So if you wanted to take it on the go to use it as a portable storage solution without the charging component, that’s not possible because it can’t draw power from the iPhone.

An iPhone will only connect to the Base and start backing up when the Base is plugged into the wall, making it useless without power.

If you attach a microUSB to USB-A cable to the microUSB port on the Base, you can connect it to your computer to view the files stored on it and add additional files, but SanDisk does not provide one of these cables. The Base also doesn’t connect to the iPhone when plugged into the computer. Files transfer over to a computer at USB 2.0 speeds.

Alternatively, you can also remove the SD card from the iXpand Base and stick it in the SD card slot of your computer if your computer has an SD card. The SD card is hard to remove from the base, though, and many modern Macs don’t have an SD card slot anyway.


The iXpand Base app can work in the background to back up your iPhone as soon as it’s plugged into the Base at night, which is a useful feature. Once it’s been installed and an initial backup has been completed, subsequent backups will happen with no interaction on your part.

Just plug it in at night and the app starts the backup process. You’ll see a banner on your iPhone letting you know it’s in progress.

The app itself is bare bones. You can sync photos, videos, and contacts to your phone using the backup feature, but there’s no option to sync individual files or photos to the Base from an iPhone.

The first time I synced my photo library, it took about 20 minutes, but each nightly backup has been much quicker. Restoring my backed up photo library to another phone was simple to do in the Settings section of the app, but it took awhile to transfer the files.

In addition to storing your photos, videos, and contacts, the iXpand Base app can be used to view, share, and manage them, but only when your iPhone is plugged in to the Base and the Base is plugged into power.

At some point during the testing process, the iXpand app duplicated several of my photos. I’m not sure what went wrong, but having duplicates in my backup is a huge hassle because they all need to be manually deleted and they take up twice the storage space.

I have a 128GB iPhone and the 128GB iXpand Base, and because it makes a full photo/video backup you’ll need to buy a capacity that matches up with how much data is on your phone. SanDisk sells these in 32, 64, 128, and 256GB capacities. There is multi-user support, so with the larger capacities, multiple iPhones can be backed up.

Bottom Line

The SanDisk Base is a clever idea, but I was left feeling like it could have been implemented in a better way, especially at its $50-$200 price point. Not being able to connect my iPhone to the Base to view my files while it isn’t plugged in is inconvenient.

When it comes to design, the flat puck of the Base feels like a lazy choice. The Base offers no benefit over putting the iPhone on a nightstand, and because I have to supply my own Lightning cable, it’s no more convenient or stylish. I think this concept would have worked better with a dock style stand that allowed the iPhone to sit in an upright position, and given the size of the base, it seems like the components could have been built into that form factor.

While I liked the idea of being able to back my iPhone up automatically without thinking about it, I don’t think this is a better solution than the small iXpand Lightning/USB Flash Drives SanDisk offers, or similar products from other companies. Those are more affordable, portable, and offer more functionality because they have both Lightning and USB-A connectors, making it easier to transfer files between devices.

If all you want is an effortless table top backup solution that does little else, the iXpand Base will provide that, but you can get more for your money with other backup and file transfer products.

If you do like the look and function of the iXpand Base, it’s worth noting that it supports swappable SD cards. I’m not sure why someone would buy anything other than the lowest capacity version. It’s cheaper to buy a standalone SD card and swap it in than it is to buy one of the higher capacity models.

How to Buy

The iXpand Base can be purchased from the SanDisk website. The 32GB model costs $49.99, the 64GB model costs $99.99, the 128GB model costs $129.99, and the 256GB model costs $199.99.

Note: SanDisk provided MacRumors with a 128GB iXpand Base for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

Tag: SanDisk
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Apple Releases Safari Technology Preview 39a With Fix for Crashing Issue

Apple today released a new update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced in March of 2016. Apple designed the Safari Technology Preview to test features that may be introduced into future release versions of Safari.

Safari Technology Preview release 39a is a followup to Safari Technology Preview 39, which was released earlier this week but suffered from a crashing issue on launch on macOS High Sierra. The new update includes the same features with fixes and improvements for Beacon API, Directory Upload, Fetch API, Input Events, JavaScript, WebAssembly, WebRTC, Web Inspector, and Media.

With Safari 11 now available to developers through the macOS High Sierra beta, Apple is providing two versions of Safari Technology Preview, one for macOS Sierra users and one for those using macOS High Sierra.

The Safari Technology Preview update is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store to anyone who has downloaded the browser. Full release notes for the update are available on the Safari Technology Preview website.

Apple’s aim with Safari Technology Preview is to gather feedback from developers and users on its browser development process. Safari Technology Preview can run side-by-side with the existing Safari browser and while designed for developers, it does not require a developer account to download.

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