Microsoft reportedly talking to Sony about Windows Phone launch in 2014

BY JON FINGAS

Microsoft only has a few key Windows Phone partners under its belt, but it may be expanding the ecosystem very shortly – The Information hears from sources that Redmond is once again in talks to launch a Sony-made Windows Phone. While there’s no guarantee of a deal, the partnership could introduce a handset as soon as mid-2014. The device may even carry the VAIO badge, and it could serve as a vehicle for Sony’s Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited services. Even if the discussions fall apart, Microsoft may have more hardware manufacturers lined up. Tipsters claim that the company wants to renew ZTE’s interest in Windows Phone, and it could be willing to cut or even waive the OS licensing fees that frequently drive potential allies toward Android. Neither side has confirmed the talks, and Sony will only say that it “continues to assess” Windows when it’s relevant. Still, there’s now a chance that the Xperia X2 will finally get a sequel.

SOURCE: The Information

full story: http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/31/microsoft-reportedly-courting-sony-for-windows-phone/

Samsung Galaxy S5 concept video borrows iPhone 5s features

by 

A new concept video for the Samsung Galaxy S5 shows what Samsung’s next phone could be like if it takes a couple features from the iPhone 5s and iterates on them.

The major focus of the new concept video is what the video creators Rozetked call Reach ID. The idea of Reach ID is very similar to Apple’s Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, but a bit more useful. Where Touch ID is only accessible from the iPhone’s home button, the concept Reach ID unlocks the phone with a fingerprint from anywhere.

With the Reach ID concept you would simply put your finger anywhere on the home button or homescreen of the Galaxy S5 to unlock the phone. Or, if you can’t reach your phone for some reason, Reach ID can unlock the S5 with just your voice. Presumably such a feature use a specific passphrase or cadence like Touchless Control feature of the Moto X, but because this is a concept video it’s not limited to such restrictions.

Speaking of not limited to reality, this concept video shows some neat voice control features that let you create a workflow for your phone. The voice control features in the concept video can open the music app, play songs from Metallica, then open the most recent photos in the Gallery app with just a few sentences and no taps required. Even more than Reach ID the feature seems like a ways off, and, if it did exist, it probably wouldn’t use the Google Now UI, but it’s always nice to dream.

Of course, the video ends with specs of the concept Samsung Galaxy S5 that make sense with the most recent rumored specs for the phone. They include a 5.2-inch 2K (2560×1440 resolution) display, a 64-bit Exynos 5 Octa processor, Android 4.4 KitKat, and 3GB of RAM.

The Galaxy S5 is one of the most hotly anticipated phones of 2014, with many more concepts to come.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is still a few months away, so expect a few more concept videos like this one and a few more rumors before it actually comes out. We don’t know much about the next Samsung flagship, but if it’s anything like this concept video, it should be a very exciting phone. If Samsung is following in the natural progression of what it had done for the past several major device launches, then it’s likely to have the best in class specifications; many of which have been listed above. Also, if you’re interested in seeing what other creative types have concocted in terms of concepts, then check out the hybrid HTC One / Galaxy device here.

What features would you like to see in the Samsung Galaxy S5? Excited for it? Or holding out for something else? Let us know what’s next on your watch list!

Thanks, Oleg!

full story: http://www.androidauthority.com/samsung-galaxy-s5-concept-video-borrows-iphone-5s-features-328474/

 

Leak suggests LG’s Lifeband Touch, a Fitbit-style wearable device, is coming soon

By 

LG has admitted it is preparing to release its first wearable device for consumers, and we just got a look at what it might be, a Fitbit-style gadget called the LG Lifeband Touch.

That’s according to regular tipsterEvleaks, who posted a render of the device to Twitter. We understand that the Lifeband Touch will support both iOS and Android, and sync with LG’s existing fitness app, but it’s not clear when it will be officially unveiled — CES seems like a good bet.

The device appears different to the Smart Activity Tracker that LG showed off at CES 2013 — we’ve contacted the company to see if it has any details to share at this point.

We hear also that the gadget will comprise of a touch-based OLED display, accelerometer, altitude meter, and music player that controls tracks from a paired device.

Thumbnail image via Scobleizer / Flickr

full story: http://thenextweb.com/mobile/2013/12/31/leaked-image-suggests-lgs-first-wearable-device-the-lifeband-touch-is-coming-soon/#!q06CK

Here Are All The Movies Netflix Is Adding On Jan. 1

New year, new ways to kill time on your couch.

by  BuzzFeed Staff

Last week, Reddit’s r/NetflixBestOf posted a list of the 89 films Netflix is purging from its instant streaming service at the start of the new year. While it’s true that a lot of classics (as well as some awesomely bad films) will be expiring at midnight tonight, all is not lost! Thanks to the same subreddit, here’s a list of the films you’ll be able to stream in less than 24 hours. All told, it’s a pretty solid group of movies…and Good Burger.

American Psycho (2000)
Raging Bull (1980)
Thelma and Louise (1991)
West Side Story (1961)
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Bull Durham (1988)
Red Dawn (1984)
Mouse Hunt (1997)
Spaceballs (1987)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
The Chinese Connection (1972)
Amelie (2001)
Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
Children of a Lesser God (1986)
Scrooged (1988)
Days of Thunder (1990)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Death Race 2000 (1975)
Ghost (1990)
Good Burger (1997)
Play It Again, Sam (1972)

15 of the best iOS apps released in December

By 

December (and 2013) will soon be a distant memory, so we thought we’d take a retrospective look at some of the more notable apps to hit our radar over the past month. So without further ado, here’s a quick snapshot of some of the best iOS apps to launch in recent weeks.

Codecademy

If you want to build an app, you’ll need to learn how to code, right? The Hour of Code app by Codecademy targets total newcomers with the basics of programming.

cad 520x455 15 of the best iOS apps released in December

Its relatively short repertoire covers the absolute basics, such as how programs are written and a few examples of what can be achieved with just a few lines of code.

➤ Codecademy

Fiverr

Fiverr, the marketplace that lets people offer their services for as little as $5,made its mobile app debut this month with the launch of an iOS version.

 15 of the best iOS apps released in December     15 of the best iOS apps released in December

The app allows you to browse the millions of ‘gigs’ listed on Fiverr, from logo design and music composition, to style consultations and voice impersonations for your voicemail greeting. Yup.

➤ Fiverr

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

There was good news for Grand Theft Auto fans in December – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas went mobile, hitting iOS earlier this month.

 15 of the best iOS apps released in December

Originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2004, the game has now been reworked for touchscreens, with a more forgiving checkpoint system and different control schemes for driving and moving around on foot.

➤ Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Angry Birds Go

Rovio launched its Mario Kart-style Angry Birds racing game in December, hitting Android, Windows Phone, iOS, AND BlackBerry at the same time.

The Angry Birds franchise is growing arms (wings?) and legs now, and based on our dabblings, it has another hit on its hands.

➤ Angry Birds Go

MusicUp

MusicUp pits you against others to discover who can identify the most songs in 90 seconds.

 15 of the best iOS apps released in December     15 of the best iOS apps released in December

You can challenge friends or strangers to listen to clips from a pre-set playlist of songs to see how many track titles can be identified within the time limit.

➤ MusicUp

 15 of the best iOS apps released in DecemberHeyday

Heyday automatically journals your photos and locations so you don’t have to.

While the setup is perhaps a little reminiscent ofRove, Heyday takes things a step further. Once you grant access, the app groups your photos, videos and locations together by day, images are displayed in grid layouts and you can even have the app automatically apply filters.

➤ Heyday

Manga Box

Japanese mobile games giant DeNA moved into manga this month, as it strives to make its mark in another entertainment vertical.

MangaBox 520x293 15 of the best iOS apps released in December

Manga Box is a free mobile app that lets users read manga from Japanese publishers. It includes original manga series, spin-offs of existing popular series and some classics. All titles will be updated weekly, with three to five new episodes added each day.

➤ Manga Box

Slice [US only]

US-based consumers have perhaps encountered Slice before, a service thattracks all your online purchases and pulls the information together into one place. Thus far, Slice has been available for iPhone, Android, and the Web, but from this month, it’s available for iPad too.

Slice iPad home nav 2 730x5481 15 of the best iOS apps released in December

To use Slice, you simply connect your email account and it automatically finds tracking numbers for items you’re awaiting.

➤ Slice

Tydlig

Tydlig is a funky take on what a calculator perhaps should look like on smartphones.

Tydlig 15 of the best iOS apps released in December    Tydligs1 15 of the best iOS apps released in December

Tydlig is a beautifully designed app that brings a rich array of features to the table. It lets you return to, highlight and edit any number in your sequence – when you change that number, the result updates automatically. Also, with a result selected, you can hit any operation – e.g. divide, subtract or add -  and create a linked number beneath it, which lets you kick-off a new sum related to the original one.

➤ Tydlig

Yahoo Weather

Eight months after it rolled out an all-new Weather app for iPhone, Yahoo finally optimized it for iPads this month.

 15 of the best iOS apps released in December

It taps Flickr (owned by Yahoo) to bring beautiful, relevant images to its local weather forecasts. Users can also submit their own weather-related snaps to theProject Weather Group and see their handiwork appear in-app next time it’s raining in their locale.

➤ Yahoo Weather

Journeys of Invention

The London Science Museum launched its first app this month, as it seeks to take its physical exhibits to the technologically-enabled masses.

inventions 15 of the best iOS apps released in December

Journeys of Invention for iPad features 81 objects from the museum’s collection, with 14 themed interactive journeys guiding users through the exhibits. It includes Scott’s Antarctic Medical Chest, an Apple I computer, the Apollo 10 Command Module, a Cray supercomputer, Enigma and a 3D-printed gun.

Unfortunately, only one of the journeys is completely free, though a second one (‘New Science’) can be unlocked if you connect your Facebook account or sign-up by email. The remaining 12 require an in-app purchase of $9.99 (£6.99).

➤ Journeys of Invention

Cut the Rope 2

As expected, ZeptoLab released the follow-up to its uber-popular puzzler Cut the Rope this month.

In Cut the Rope 2, players are still tasked with collecting candy for Om Nom, although this time he’s joined by a cast of supporting characters called Toss, Boo and Blue.

➤ Cut the Rope 2

Notegraphy

Notegraphy is an Instagram-style app for creating short notes with beautiful typography.

Typies 520x455 15 of the best iOS apps released in DecemberOptimized for iPhone and iPad, Notegraphy wants everyone to have fun with typography and create vibrant, sophisticated examples that can then be shared with their friends online.

➤ Notegraphy

One Today [US only]

Google launched One Today this month, a mobile app promoting charitable causes, some six months after it arrived for Android. However, it remains US-only for now.

 15 of the best iOS apps released in December     15 of the best iOS apps released in December

The app showcases a different non-profit organization each day, and provides a payment facility for users to donate $1 to the cause. Details of organizations can be shared with friends from inside the app, and there’s an option to match friends’ donations too.

➤ One Today

Flow for Instagram

While Instagram has yet to launch an iPad-optimized app, there continues to be a steady stream of third-party clients waiting to fill this void. The latest one is Flow, and it’s pretty sweet.

FLOW 15 of the best iOS apps released in December

Feature-wise, there’s nothing revolutionary in there, but it’s all about the browsing experience – Flow does exactly what its name suggests and is slick and fast.

The more you use it, the more you notice the little navigational nuances, such as long-pressing an image to bring up details of the user-profile behind the shared-image. And tapping on an image once to start a gallery-style display that lets you swipe through everything in your feed.

➤ Flow for Instagram

Meanwhile, check out our roundup of some of the best iOS apps from the whole of 2013.

full story: http://thenextweb.com/apps/2013/12/31/best-ios-apps-released-december/2/

The iPhone has reportedly been fully hacked by the NSA since 2008 (including Camera & Microphone) (Update: Apple denies working with NSA)

by Devindra Hardawar

As 2013 edges to a close, reports of the NSA’s widespread surveillance capabilities have reached new heights of absurdity.

A report from Der Spiegel over the weekend highlighted the NSA’s elite TAO hacking unit, which directly targets corporate networks and can even place spyware on devices while they’re being shipped to recipients. And yesterday, security researcher Jacob Applebaum and Der Spiegel blew the lid off another NSA program, dubbed “DROPOUTJEEP,” which gives the agency fully control of Apple’s iPhone.

Once the NSA’s malware is on an iPhone, the agency can access just about any data on the device, including text messages, contact lists, geolocation history, and voicemail, according to a leaked NSA document (below). It can also remotely enable the iPhone’s camera and microphone.

Applebaum, who coauthored the story in Der Spiegel also detailed how the NSA’s iPhone surveillance works during a talk at this week’s Chaos Communications Congress, an annual hacker get-together. You can view the second part of his talk below, with the iPhone discussion beginning at 44:30.

Given the extent of the NSA’s surveillance machine so far, it’s not surprising that it has its hooks in the iPhone. What is surprising is the agency’s purported 100-percent success rate on installing malware on the iPhone. It’s also worrying that Applebaum is highlighting a leaked NSA document from 2008, only a year after the iPhone was released. At that point, the NSA didn’t have a way to remotely install its malware on iPhones — who knows what the agency’s full capabilities are today.

“Do you think Apple helped them build that?” Appelbaum said during his talk. “I don’t know. I hope Apple will clarify that …”

News of DROPOUTJEEP comes on top of reports that the NSA can easily hack into Android phones and BlackBerry devices and servers. But it sounds like, for whatever reason, the NSA may have even more complete access to the iPhone.

Update: Apple has issued the following response to the report, aiming to dispel the notion that it cooperated with the NSA:

Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements. Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.

NSA DROPOUTJEEP iPhone hackVia Forbes

full story: http://venturebeat.com/2013/12/31/the-iphone-has-reportedly-been-fully-hacked-by-the-nsa-since-2008/

Google Play Music All Access subscribers invited to purchase Google Glass

By Phil Nickinson

If you’re a Google Play Music All Access subscriber who’s wanted Google Glass but for whatever reason hasn’t been able to score an invite, check your inbox. Emails are going out this morning seeking those with Google’s music subscription service who want the $1,500 wearable.

Writes Google:

Your Chance to Buy Google Glass

With the launch of Google Play Music on Google Glass, we’ve secured VIP invitations for All Access customers to join the Glass Explorer Program. Interested in rocking out while exploring with Glass? Sign up to receive your invitation below!

Indeed, Google Play Music is available on Google Glass. And as we found out in our testing, it sounds half-decent, but it’s a bit rough on battery life.

As always, you’ll need to be a U.S. resident (or, really, have a U.S. shipping address) to actually purchase Glass.

And be sure to swing by our Through Glass series, which explores how we’re living with Google Glass.

full story: http://www.androidcentral.com/google-play-music-all-access-subscribers-invited-purchase-google-glass

Hack-proof your life: A guide to Internet privacy in 2014

by Keith Wagstaff NBC News

hours ago

James Braund / Getty Images When it comes to the Internet, you can never be too careful.

When it comes to the Internet, you can never be too careful.

It’s no secret that 2013 wasn’t a great year for Internet privacy.

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified documents that revealed the depths of the agency’s electronic surveillance program. Users had their information stolen en masse from private databases, including a security breach in November that reportedly resulted in 42 million unencrypted passwords being stolenfrom Australian-based Cupid Media, which was followed by a massive hack of Target credit and debit card information.

So, what’s a concerned netizen to do in 2014? Turns out there are plenty of ways to keep your data safe without breaking your Internet addiction.

Take two steps towards better security
Even if you aren’t worried about NSA agents reading your email, you should still be concerned about hackers taking a peek at your sensitive bank information or your “50 Shades of Grey” fan fiction.

That is why it’s a good idea to take advantage of two-step verification, something thatGoogleFacebookMicrosoftTwitter and other companies have been pushing more often lately as big password leaks have hit the news.

Basically, not only will the service ask you for your password, but it will provide you with a code via a text message or an authentication app that will verify your identity.

“People should take the extra step because it’s incredibly effective in making it hard for someone to break into your account,” Yan Zhu, technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocate for Internet privacy, told NBC News. “They not only need access to something you know — which is your password — but they need access to something you own, which is your phone or another secondary device.”

Check your URL
Every website you visit should have “https” before the URL in the browser, instead of just “http, to ensure Web traffic is encrypted for a more secure connection — especially in spaces with public Wi-Fi like airports and cafes. What do you do if that extra “s” is missing? You might want to install HTTPS Everywhere, a browser plug-in for Chrome, Firefox and Opera that rewrites requests to websites to keep you protected.

Change your terrible password
The top three passwords in a November security breach that reportedly affected 38 million Adobe customer accounts:

  • 123456
  • 123456789
  • password

Not exactly impenetrable. And password cracking software — much of it freely available — isonly getting more advanced. So how can you protect yourself?

“Use long passwords, at least eight characters, but the longer the better,” Maxim Weinstein, security advisor at Sophos, wrote to NBC News. “Avoid words (including names) and predictable patterns like adding a number to the end of a word. One trick is to choose a phrase or song lyric and use the first letter of each word (e.g., “Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light” equals “oscysbtdel”), perhaps making some substitutions to make it more complex.”

Don’t use the same password for everything
You should also have a different password for every site, so that a hacker who gets your dating website password won’t all of a sudden have access to your Gmail account. Weinstein also recommended using a password manager like 1Password or LastPass to keep track of all of them, or, at the very least, creating three different passwords for your work email, personal email and websites that you visit.

DuckDuckGo DuckDuckGo CEO and founder Gabriel Weinberg.

Browse without being tracked

Normally, when you search for something on the Internet, the site can see what search term you used, not to mention your IP address, which can be used to identify you. Switching from your current search engine to one like DuckDuckGo is one step you can take to protect your identity.

“When you visit anything on the Internet, your computer is sending information about itself over the Net that can be used to tie things back to you. Most services store this information, which then can be used by these government programs and other things to identify you,” Gabriel Weinberg, the site’s founder and CEO, told NBC News. “DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, does not store any personally identifiable information, so we literally have nothing to tie your searches to you.”

When you are using Google, you can browse inIncognito mode. It doesn’t mask your searches or IP address, but it does have some added privacy benefits, like not recording your search history and deleting new cookies after you close your browser windows.

Consider the power of Tor
For the strictest level anonymity, you can download Tor, a software network that bounces Internet traffic around thousands of relays around the world to mask what sites you have visited and where you have visited them from. (Although, as the recent arrest of a Harvard student who allegedly used Tor while sending a fake bomb threat shows, it doesn’t guarantee you will be completely anonymous).

Encrypt your email
While free Webmail services like Gmail, Microsoft’s Outlook and Yahoo Mail have upped their encryption standards over recent years, you might still want the added protection of end-to-end encryption. It basically cuts out the middleman and sends email messages directly to the recipient, who can only read it if he or she has two encryption keys, one public and the other private.

“I really hope end-to-end encryption becomes more popular over the next year,” Zhu said. “One of the great things about it is that because it happens on the user’s computer, they have full control over it. They don’t have to trust a third party to keep their data safe.”

The downside? It’s not very easy to implement. Even Glenn Greenwald, the former Guardian reporter who broke the Edward Snowden story, had trouble with it. You’ll need to download encryption software called PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), or the open-source GPG (GnuPG), and start using an email client like Thunderbird. (The Press Freedom Foundationhas a good explainer on how to set everything up). It’s all not very attractive or user-friendly — something that Mailpile, which raised $163,192 this year on Indiegogo, is hoping to change by developing a more Gmail-esque interface.

Protect your chats and cloud storage
Email isn’t the only personal data you should be worried about. Plenty of services store chat logs, and while cloud-storage services usually have strong protections, your information could still be at risk from hackers or anyone who has your username and password.

Some good solutions: Programs like Cryptocat or Pidgin with the OTR plug-in, for encrypted chats, and Cloudfogger or BoxCryptor for storing sensitive documents on services like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Of course, the reason people pick passwords like 123456 is because it’s easier than the alternative. If you want complete privacy and security in 2014, you’re going to have to work for it.

Keith Wagstaff writes about technology for NBC News. He previously covered technology for TIME’s Techland and wrote about politics as a staff writer at TheWeek.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @kwagstaff and reach him by email at: Keith.Wagstaff@nbcuni.com

full story: http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/how-protect-your-internet-privacy-2014-2D11762947

 

The Biggest Apple Stories Of 2013 [Year In Review]

by 

2013 was an enormous year for Apple.  Yes, there were hyped keynotes galore, fabulous new products, record breaking sales, and much, much more. But 2013 was about more than just hardware for Apple Inc. During Tim Cook’s second full-year reigning over Apple we saw the CEO really settle into his role helming the largest tech company in the world while Jony Ive’s influence grew to greater heights than in the Jobs-era as he spread his design tentacles from hardware to software.

Jony and Tim weren’t the only stars of 2013 though. There was the up-and-coming VP of software engineering Craig Federighi and Craig Federighi’s Hair, while Apple’s hiring of Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts received heaps of praise from both the financial, tech, and fashion markets. Oh and don’t forget about goons like David Einhorn, Carl Icahn and even cranky old John McCain getting their jabs in at Apple throughout the year.

Here’s Cult of Mac’s look back on Apple in the year 2013:

January

Tim-Cook-China

Tim Cook meeting with officials in China

Starting the year off right, Apple announced its best earning ever for Q1 2013. Apple announced earnings of $54.5 billion and a net profit of $13.1 billion. But the stock took a tumble for months as Wall Street worried that Apple’s phenomenal growth slowing. Don’t you love how a record-breaking quarter is still considered an “ouch?”

While investors worried about Apple not growing anymore, rumors began to circulate that the company was working on a $99 iPhone. As iPhone 5 sales were beginning to drop, many investors saw enormous potential in the idea of an unsubsidized $99 iPhone. The WSJ said it would be released by the end of 2013, but when Apple finally announced the iPhone 5c in the Fall the price tag was more than fans were hoping for.

China became a huge focus for Apple in 2013 with Tim Cook making his second to the country in January to talk to country officials and meet with China Mobile. Cook also addressed Apple employees  at a staff meeting at the end of January to comment on Apple’s falling stock price, saying that the company is focused on mindshare, not marketshare, a point which he reiterated to the media throughout the year.

February

iWatch_perspective

iWatch rumors were all the rage in February after the NYT and WSJ both reported that Apple has dedicated a team of over 100 designers to making a smartwatch. The iWatch will presumably use Bluetooth 4.0 to connect with an iPhone and show incoming messages to act as a bridge between your devices, though we haven’t heard anything official from Cupertino on it yet.

Debate surrounding Apple’s stock intensified in February thanks to Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn who demanded Apple start selling iPref stock and even went so far as suing the company.

Einhorn’s plan called for Apple should distribute $47 billion in preferred stock to fixed-income investors, and call it iPrefs. The iPrefs shares would issue 50 cents per quarter in dividends indefinitely so that investors can get higher yields out of Apple’s stock and get a piece of the more than $100 billion in cash Apple has in the bank. Tim Cook denounced the entire episode as “a silly sideshow” while speaking at Goldman Sach’s annual tech conference.

March

jonyivecars

Word of Jony Ive’s growing influence at Apple started to buzz as iWatch rumors grew along with a big iOS 7 redesign in the pipeline. As the new Human Interface designer, Ive planned to apply his hardware design philosophies to software by stripping iOS down to flat, modern, white spaces. The absence of Forstall also led improved collaboration between Ive and human interface lead Greg Christie, known for his bluntness, with insiders describing the relationship as “pleasant and cordial.”

Apple’s mapping efforts were the butt of all the tech jokes toward the end of 2012 thanks to the disastrous launch of its new maps app in iOS 6.  Looking to quickly make up lost ground, Apple acquired WifiSlam, an indoor mapping company that developed ways for mobile apps to detect a phone user’s location in a building using Wi-Fi signals, paving the way for iBeacons to launch in iOS 7 later in the year.

Controversy surrounding cell phone unlocking came into the national spotlight thanks to a petition with 114,000+ signatures demanding the ability to unlock their iPhone without risking criminal penalties. President Obama came out in favor of legalizing unlocking and released a statement claiming consumers should be able to use their iPhones on another network if the devices has been paid for and the consumer and isn’t bound by a service agreement or other obligation.

Rumors of Apple’s plan for iTunes Radio started heating up alongside whispers that the iPhone 5s will have a fingerprint sensor. Samsung revealed its answer for the iPhone 5 with the Galaxy S 4 and all its gimmicky features, but Apple still managed to capture its 9th straight J.D. Power award for the iPhone.

April

GTY_iphone_5c_lpl_131004_16x9_992-640x360

After getting pounded by the Chinese media for its warranty policies, Tim Cook started April off by publishing a letter apologizing to customers in China. The letter, which was written in Chinese and posted to Apple’s website, said that Tim Cook and the rest of the company have been reflecting on the feedback regarding its warranty policies so that a repaired iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S will be covered under warranty for one year after it’s been repaired.

Apple released its financial results for the second fiscal quarter of 2013 that beat estimates with a reported $43.6 billion in revenue and a net profit of $9.5 billion, however profit shrank year-over-year for the first time in ten years, sending AAPL shares on another slide.

Rear casing for the iPhone 5c started making their appearance on the Internet in April partnered with new rumors that Apple would break from tradition and release two new iPhone units this year. Tim Cook fanned the flames more by teasing Apple’s upcoming product line for 2013 with vague hints during the quarterly earnings call. WWDC was also announced during April, but getting tickets was about as hard as winning the lottery as the event sold out in 71 seconds. 

May

tim-cook-coffee

With WWDC on the horizon, Apple’s software engineers were put into “crunch time” mode to get iOS 7 ready in time for developers to appreciate the sweeping changes Jony Ive was rumored to bring to the OS.

Tim Cook headed to Washington D.C. to explain the why’s and how’s of Apple’s massive offshore cash horde before the Senate Sub-Committee Hearing to Examine Offshore Profit Shifting and Tax Avoidance by Apple Inc. Cook managed to appease Senator McCain and his frustration over having to update his apps.

The App Store celebrated its 50 billionth download, and after 86 bids sent Tim Cook’s CharityBuzz into the stratosphere, some crazy bastard walked away paying $610,000 in the charity auction just to sip some coffee with Timmy at Apple HQ.

June

1G4qizq

Apple went the entire first half of the year without announcing a single new product until the keynote at WWDC.

iOS7iCons

After Scott Forstall was outed as VP of iOS Software Design, Jony Ive redesign the entire system by stripping out the heavy textures, shadowing, and skeuomorphic features, in favor of a flatter, white interface. iOS 7 also featured a number of important software features, such as iBeacons and native support for third-party controllers for the first time ever.

iTunes Radio was announced at the event as the company’s answer to Pandora. Apple didn’t announce any new iDevices, but it did sign a $30 million iPad contract with the 2nd largest school district in the nation.

OS X 10.9 was previewed at WWDC as Apple announced they were ditching their cat-themed names in favor of California-inspired names with the debut of Mavericks. The update featured big improvements to Safari, notifications, Maps for OS X, and iCloud keychain.

MacBook Airs were also shown off at WWDC with all-day battery life thanks to Intel’s new Haswell processors. The new machines featured 2X GPU execution units 40% faster graphics and 45% faster SSDs. A trailer for the new Mac Pro was also shown during Phil Schiller’s segment of the keynote, but in a rare Apple move, pricing and a launch date weren’t immediately available. A new Airport, Airport Express and Time Capsule were also announced at the event.

July

from YSL to AAPL, Paul Deneve was Apple's first big fashion hire of the year, but not the last

from YSL to AAPL, Paul Deneve was Apple’s first big fashion hire of the year, but not the last.

Fashion CEOs were all the rage when it came to new Apple hires this year, starting in July when the company nabbed Paul Deneve, former Yves Saint Laurent CEO. Deneve was hired as a vice president and will be working on special projects – probably something related to iWatch – reporting directly to Tim Cook. A Hulu exec was also hired to help negotiate ad deals for Apple TV.

During its earnings call for the third fiscal quarter, the company was just barely able to beat Wall Street’s estimates by reporting revenue of $35.3 billion and a net profit of $6.9 billion, aided by the sale of 31.2 million iPhone (a Q3 record).

News of the NSA’s PRISM program rocked the country when it was revealed that NSA created a $20 million spy program, that has been allowed to directly access citizens’ private data on Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple servers – the companies joined the program in that order as well. All companies denied involvement in PRISM initial, but by July Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and others formed a broad alliance with civil liberties groups to demand for increased transparency regarding the U.S. government’s spy programs on citizens.

Apple unveiled a redesigned Logic Pro X at the end of the month and it also managed to work out a settlement with Amazon over the use of the phrase “App store” before their trial went to court. By the end of the month the iPhone 5c had practically been officially confirmed thanks to a Pegatron labor abuse report.

August

ashton-kutcher-as-steve-jobs

As rumors regarding the mythical gold iPhone started to heat up, Ashton Kutcher brought his sexy smolder to the Steve Jobs death stare with the wide-release of JOBS, the first biopic of Steve Jobs since his death in 2011. The film’s release was pushed back from April after received mixed reviews during its screening at Sundance. The film only brought in $6.7 million its opening weekend, although the actor did share some deep insights into how he stepped into the role of Jobs.

Carl Icahn emerged as Tim Cook’s latest nuances regarding AAPL shares and a stock buyback program. The famous billionaire investor took to Twitter to proclaim the stock as being “extremely undervalued.” AAPL shares subsequently shot up and the two later met to discuss the stock over dinner, but Icahn has been pestering Cook and Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer to do a large buyback sooner rather than later.

President Obama hosted a meeting with Tim Cook, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Google computer scientist Vint Cerf and other tech executives and civil liberties leaders for a closed-door meeting about government surveillance. Those off-the-record discussions centered on the controversy surrounding the NSA as well as commercial privacy issues such as online tracking of consumers as Apple and other tech companies have pushed for more transparency over how often the NSA request private data.

September

iPhone5sios7

Months of speculation and rumors surrounding the iPhone finally culminated with the September 10th keynote where Tim Cook and the gang revealed not one, but two new iPhones – the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s included new features like Touch ID, a 64-bit A7 processor, the M7 motion co-processor, an improved camera with dual led flash, while the iPhone 5c was a cheaper plastic version of the popular iPhone 5.

TouchID

Jony Ive announced that he and famed designer Marc Newson were teaming up to create a one-of-a-kind auction block of items – including solid gold ear pods, a custom Leica, red Mac Pro and more – to benefit Bono’s Project (RED) charity to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa.

iOS 7 was launched publicly on September 18th while Apple enjoyed its most successful iPhone launch weekend with over 9 million units sold. To compete against Google Docs and Microsoft Office, Apple announced that it was making its iWork suite of apps free to new Mac and iDevice owners.

The iMac finally got an update at the end of September to include fourth-generation Intel quad-core Haswell processors,NVIDIA GeForce 700 series graphics, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and faster PCIe flash storage options were added to the popular all-in-one desktop.

October

AngelaAhrendts

Apple’s new retail queen takes over in Spring 2014

Apple went nearly a year before replacing its failed Retail Chief, John Browett, but the company made a huge splash by announcing Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, will be joining the Cupertino company to take up a newly-created position as senior vice president of retail and online stores. Ahrendts will report directly to CEO Tim Cook and will oversee the strategic direction, expansion, and operation of Apple’s retail business. It’s suspected that Ahrendts is being groomed to become CEO after her amazing work turning around the Burberry brand.

Following the success of the iPhone event, Apple also announced two new iPads in October – iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. At 7.5 mm thick and one pound in weight, the iPad Air also packed enough battery for 10 hours of use with the new A7 processor, improved camera, dual mics, and M7 coprocessor. The iPad mini with Retina display was announced with a resolution of 2048 X 1536 for it’s 7.9-inch screen, but manufacturing issues caused supply constraints for the first several weeks of availability in November.

Mavericks was released on October 22nd, but Apple shocked us by making it the first ever free OS X upgrade for users on Snow Leopard or later. The new Mac Pro was also officially announced at the iPad keynote with starting price of $2999, while the MacBook Pro with Retina display got beefed up with faster graphics and longer battery life.

At the end of the month Apple announced  just announced its Q4 2013 earning of $36 billion in revenue with $8.2 billion in net profit. Along with the 9 million iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c units it sold during launch weekend, Apple says it sold 33.8 million iPhones, along with 14.1 million iPads – both an improvement from the same quarter last year

November

Tim Cook and 5c Bloomberg Buisinessweek

Despite winning its $1 billion case against Samsung in 2012, the two companies went back to court this year for a retrial that saw Apple coming out on top, again. This time the jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple an extra $290 million for patent infringement damages, but the legal war is still far from over.

Tim Cook took to the The Wall Street Journal to write an op-ed arguing in favor of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, a proposed piece of U.S. legislation that protects against sexual identity and gender discrimination in the workplace. Cook occasionally gives media interviews, but him writing something like an op-ed out from under the umbrella of Apple was pretty significant.

Apple continued to push back against the NSA by publishing a report outlining the different kind of government requests it has received for its customers’ personal data. The report breaks down the number of customer account and device requests from different governments around the world, and the U.S. unsurprisingly leads the pack with the number of requests for each area.

PrimeSense, the Israel-based company behind the 3D motion tracking in the original Xbox Kinect, was scooped up by Apple for a whopping $345 million. It was the largest of many acquisitions Apple made in 2013 leading many to speculate how Apple might implement the company’s full-body motion tracking into its products.

The iPad mini with Retina display finally went on sale in November, but thanks to insane demand coupled with manufacturing problems, supplies were hard to find until mid-December. Oh, and some British dude published the first biography on Jony Ive.

December

apple_china

Apple Stores across the U.S. received their biggest upgrade at the end of the year as the company activated iBeacons at 254 stores. The iBeacons use Bluetooth low-energy, to track users’ iPhones as they roam the store and then send notifications to users alerting them to deals or info regarding products, but we found the experience to be lacking.

Nearly six months after teasing the new Mac Pro at WWDC units finally go onsale on Apple.com but shipping estimates quickly slipped into early 2014 for the new mega-computer. Not satisfied with its huge PrimeSense buy, the company with more money than god also decided to splurge on the social media analytics company Topsy for over $200 million.

And to top off the year, Tim Cook and the crew at Cupertino managed to finally managed to pull in their white whale – a contract with China Mobile. Armed with a cheaper iPhone 5c, Apple finally has access to the world’s largest carrier and the 760 million subscribers that come with it, setting up 2014 to potentially be the most lucrative year Apple has ever seen.

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ViaCamillo Miller

14 of the best Android apps released in December

By 

With December 2013 now consigned to the history books, we thought we’d take a retrospective look at some of the more notable apps to hit our radar over the past month. So without further ado, here’s a quick snapshot of some of the best Android apps to hit Google Play in recent weeks.

VSCO

VSCO Cam is a sweet photo-editing app with subtle filters that give your shots the color cast usually reserved for RAW files spat out by a full-frame DSLR.

VSCO1 520x438 14 of the best Android apps released in December

You can alter the intensity of the filters, contrast, temperature and crop options, and share across the social sphere. Though it has a shooting mode too, it’s really the editing features that make this worth your time.

➤ VSCO Cam

Cal

To-do list startup Any.DO finally took its smart calendar app Cal to Android this month.

Cal 520x326 14 of the best Android apps released in December

Cal syncs with all the major calendars, including Google and Exchange, but it’s when you start adding items to your calendar where things get interesting. It asks to use your current location, so it can deliver additional details for each entry. For example, if you enter a location name such as ‘Concert at Wembley’, Cal detects it. It will even plot it out on a map for you and offer to help you navigate your way to any event.

➤ Cal

Dolphin Zero

Why waste time deleting all your browsing history when you can just load upDolphin’s new privacy-focused ‘ephemeral’ browser?

DOLPHON 730x283 14 of the best Android apps released in December

Creators MoboTap touts Dolphin Zero as the ‘Snapchat for browsing’, as it automatically deletes all your data including browsing history, cache, passwords and cookies.

When you first launch the app, you’re left with no doubt as to Dolphin’s coreraison d’être – its strapline ‘Leave No Trace’ headlines a list of things that it automatically deletes when you tell it to.

➤ Dolphin Zero

Stevie

Stevie, the oddly-named TV-focused startup that emerged from Microsoft’s Azure Accelerator in Israel in early 2012, finally arrived for Android last month.

Stevei 14 of the best Android apps released in December

Stevie provides a social TV layer that combines content from your Facebook and Twitter feeds, along with popular videos from YouTube. To keep the experience as ‘lean-back’ as possible, it’s displayed directly over the content you are watching.

➤ Stevie

Quip

Former Facebook CTO (and FriendFeed co-founder) Bret Taylor and ex-Googler Kevin Gibbs teamed up to launch Quip back in July, with a view towards reinventing how word processing is done. And the Android incarnation landed earlier this month too.

QUIPS 14 of the best Android apps released in December    QUIP 14 of the best Android apps released in December

In a nutshell, the app lets users create documents on any compatible device, and communicate/collaborate across projects. It can be used for shared to-do lists, family shopping lists or, well, anything really.

➤ Quip

Manga Box

Japanese mobile games giant DeNA moved into manga this month, as it seeks to make its mark in another entertainment vertical.

Manga Box is a free mobile app that lets users read artists’ manga series from Japanese publishers. It includes original manga series, spin-offs of existing popular series and some classics. All titles will be updated weekly, with three to five new episodes added each day.

➤ Manga Box

Keepy

Keepy, the intergenerational platform that helps families preserve memories through ‘playlists’ filled with photos, artwork, schoolwork and more, rolled out for Android last month.

Keepy launched for iOS back in September and now claims 150,000 users in 90 countries. But with its arrival on Google Play, several new features have been thrown into the mix across all platforms, including integration with Zazzle to offer printing services directly within the app.

➤ Keepy

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

There was good news for Grand Theft Auto fans in December – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas went mobile, hitting Android earlier this month.

Grand Theft Auto San Andrewa 14 of the best Android apps released in December

Originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2004, the game was reworked for touchscreen devices, with a more forgiving checkpoint system and two different control schemes for driving and moving around on foot.

➤ Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Angry Birds Go

Rovio launched its Mario Kart-style Angry Birds racing game in December, hitting Android, Windows Phone, iOS, AND BlackBerry in one fell swoop.

The Angry Birds franchise is really growing arms and legs now, and based on our tinkerings with this game, it has another hit on its hands.

➤ Angry Birds Go

Android Device Manager

Google launched a standalone app for its Android Device Manager service earlier this month, one that works just like the Web-based version of the service.

GDM 730x456 14 of the best Android apps released in December

It shows you any device associated with your Google Account, lets you ring to locate these devices, and protects the information stored inside by remotely adding a screen lock or performing a factory reset to erase the content.

➤ Android Device Manager

MusicUp

MusicUp pits you against others to discover who can identify the most songs in 90 seconds.

MusicUp1 520x342 14 of the best Android apps released in December

You can challenge friends or strangers to listen to clips from a pre-set playlist of songs to see how many track titles can be identified within the time limit.

➤ MusicUp

Soundrop

December proved to be a busy month for Soundrop. Fresh from expanding its social listening service to cover Deezer, it also released an Android app to accompany the existing iOS incarnation.

sd 14 of the best Android apps released in December

Soundrop offers ‘listening rooms’ where Spotify and Deezer users can discuss and share artists, new music and anything else.

➤ Soundrop

TalkSide

TalkSide is a call-screen replacer that brings context and background information to your calls.

talkside 14 of the best Android apps released in DecemberSo before you make or receive a call, you can see relevant information such as text messages, Facebook statuses, birthdays and more. While you are encouraged to sync up with Facebook during the initial set-up, you can actually skip this step – though you will miss out on some of the experience.

➤ TalkSide

CircleMe

We first took a peek at CircleMe back in October 2011 when it launched in private beta – while it was originally only available for Web and iOS, it arrived for Android this month too.

Circleme 14 of the best Android apps released in December    cme 14 of the best Android apps released in December

In a nutshell, CircleMe makes it easy to create an online profile to showcase all your favorite things – this could be websites, films, magazines, books, music, hobbies and more. At its core, CircleMe is about connecting with people with similar interests.

➤ CircleMe

full story: http://thenextweb.com/apps/2013/12/31/best-apps-december/2/