Apple brings iTunes Extras to Apple TV, HD Extras to Macs today & iOS 8 in fall


Jordan Kahn:

Apple today released iTunes version 11.3 and with it is making its iTunes Extras feature available for HD movies on Macs.  Apple also announced today that the feature is now available for Apple TV with update 6.2 and will arrive on iOS 8 this fall.

As noted by Apple, “iTunes Extras can include behind-the-scenes videos, short films, high-resolution image galleries, director’s commentary, scenes, and more.

Finally – have been waiting for iTunes Extras for Apple TV since the 1st generation of Apple TV.

Harmony Remote Now Works With Nest Learning Thermostat


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Logitech announced yesterday that their Harmony universal remote control devices range can now be integrated with Nest Thermostats – specifically the Harmony ‘Ultimate’ remote control. Together with their previously announced Philips HUE light integration and Sonos audio integration, the Harmony remote can now control your lights, audio and now heating for when you using one of the activities such as watching a movie, listening to music etc.

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Logitech state that you can:

  • See and set the temperature without leaving your couch
  • When paired with your Nest Thermostat, Harmony Ultimate lets you quickly and easily set your preferred temperature directly from the remote.
  • Change Nest heating and cooling modes
  • Easily access and select your preferred Nest operating mode—Heat, Cool, or Heat • Cool— on the remote’s full color touchscreen.
  • Ultimate lets Nest know you’re home
  • Pick up Harmony Ultimate when you return home and the remote’s motion sensor knows to tell Nest to switch off Auto-Away™ mode.
  • Pairing Nest with Harmony Ultimate is a snap
  • Use the MyHarmony desktop software to quickly add, pair and configure your Nest thermostat with your Harmony Ultimate remote. Get step-by-step instructions.
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I’m not really sure how useful it would be to adjust the temperature when starting or changing an activity, it seems more like a convenience to be able to adjust the temperature rather than anything else, however just having the ability to talk to the Nest Thermostat should be applauded.

You can find out more about the Harmony ULTIMATE remote here.

Google’s Nest Buys Dropcam for $555 Million


Liz Gannes:

Dropcam, the popular home monitoring camera startup, will be acquired by Nest, maker of smart thermostats and smoke detectors. The deal is worth $555 million in cash.

Nest itself was just purchased by Google just four months ago for $3.2 billion. But the company says it is undertaking this acquisition on its own, outside of Google. Dropcam will be folded into Nest’s brand and company culture, and will also be subject to its privacy policy, Matt Rogers, Nest co-founder and VP of engineering, told Re/code in an interview Friday.

Things are really heating up in ‘The Internet of Things’ space – Everybody, including Google yesterday are vying to dominate this space.

Apple iPhone theft is down drastically thanks to activation lock feature


Adam Zeis:

Late last year, Apple added the Activation Lock feature to devices in hopes of cutting down on theft. New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, and the district attorney of San Francisco, George Gascón are now saying that the “kill switch” that is Activation Lock has drastically cut down on iPhone theft. Police say that robberies have dropped in London, New York and San Francisco after Activation Lock was added to iOS 7. London thefts fell by 24 percent, New York by 19 percent and San Francisco by 38 percent when compared to the same period last year.

Activation Lock works by requiring you to enter your Apple ID and password before you can turn off Find My iPhone, sign out of iCloud or erase and reactivate your device. This greatly deters thieves, knowing they won’t be able to access the device with the proper credentials. Starting in 2015, all smartphones will require the same type of feature. Apple, Samsung, Google, HTC, Microsoft and others will all have built-in anti-theft tools standard.

Great recent feature from Apple. eBay is packed with iPhone’s that are for sale dirt-cheap because they are locked and therefore available only for parts..

iPhone-Connected Vessyl Smart Cup Tracks Drinking Habits


Julie Clover:

Along with displaying nutritional information, Vessyl also keeps track of what a user drinks during the day, tallying statistics like calories consumed, caffeine levels, hydration, and more. Users can set goals within the app, tracking all of these metrics and more. Vessyl also tracks and estimates a person’s real-time hydration needs based on how much they drink, which is measured through the liquid level in the cup.

Vessyl, which holds 13 ounces of liquid, has a built-in display, a spill-proof lid, and a non-stick interior. It connects to an iPhone using Bluetooth 4.0 to upload nutrient data to its accompanying iPhone app, which also integrates with popular activity trackers. The cup lasts for five to seven days on a single charge and uses wireless charging.

Vessyl can be pre-ordered for $99, but will later retail for $199. It is available in three different colors (Shadow, Snow, and Steam) along with several accent lid colors, and it is expected to begin shipping in early 2015.

Interesting idea. Every day there seems to be a link to a new smart product. I can only see this being useful as an aid to a dietary program though.

New app Audibly lets you share your music wirelessly to nearby iOS devices


Mike Beasley:

A brand new app created by three 2013 WWDC student scholarship winners— Nick Frey, Chris Galzerano, and Veeral Patel—launched on the App Store earlier this month. The app is called Audibly, and it allows users to stream music from one device to any others nearby. The music plays in sync across all devices, allowing everyone to listen in on the same playlist.

The app is fairly straightfoward. You simply pick a playlist to share, pair with a few nearby iOS devices, and hit play. The connection is made over Wi-Fi when there’s a network available, or through a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connection if the devices aren’t connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

From the app’s interface, you can control the volume of each individual device that’s connected and adjust the pitch and other effects. Users can also mark specific songs as a favorite to go back to that song later.

Audibly is available completely free on the App Store.

Smart idea and seems to work flawlessly.

Honeywell turns up the heat with the Lyric smart thermostat


John Callaham:

Lyric’s biggest bullet point is its use of geofencing. In basic terms, when a person leaves their home with their smartphone, the Lyric senses when they depart and adjusts the temperature inside to a level designed to save money. When that same person makes the return trip home, the Lyric again detects when the person is getting close and adjusts the temperature again to make sure that the home is comfortable again when the home owner enters.

So we have Nest, Hive and now Honeywell’s Lyric battling to be king of the thermostat. It’s like this – whoever opens up their API’s so that they may work with other applications like SmartThings and now Apple will get my cash..

Amazon Kindle app for iPad & iPhone gains Audible audio book integration



Amazon’s official Kindle app for iPad and iPhone has been updated to include integration with audio versions of titles when purchased through the service Audible, as well as cloud syncing with Whispersync for Voice.

Kindle for iOS, as well as Google’s Android, now allows users to switch between reading and listening without leaving the app, as long as they own both the Kindle and Audible versions of a title. The free update is now available.

Nice update from the Kindle team there.

Sky Go adds ITV support just in time for the World Cup


Richard Devine:

Sky TV’s popular mobile service, Sky Go, just got more useful for football fans on the go by adding ITV to its list of supported channels just in time for the Fifa World Cup. Or, if you’re just into regular TV, you’ll be well taken care of by the other channels since it includes ITV1, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV.

In addition, the Sky exclusive ITV Encore channel will also be available when it launches, and customers also get access to a ton of ITV box-sets and on-demand content. The channels should be added to the service today, so go ahead and fire up Sky Go on your phone or tablet and take a look.