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Updated: 1 hour 5 min ago

Best true wireless earbuds: Free yourself from the tyranny of cords

Tue, 2018-07-10 19:57

Earbud makers have been busy doing away with wires—a good thing whether or not your phone still has a headset jack. You no longer have to deal with cords if you don't want to. True wireless earbuds connect to one another and your audio source via Bluetooth.

No wires mean no inline microphones or controls, but truly wireless earbuds sound just as good as traditional Bluetooth counterparts (for better or worse). They also boast all of the features we've come to expect from earbuds designed to work with your smartphone, tablet, or PC.

Since Apple’s AirPods became a runaway hit, an endless stream of companies have rolled out their own true wireless earbuds and earphones. As you might expect, not all of them are worth your time or money—so we've got your back with buying suggestions to meet a wide variety of needs.

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Best wireless routers: Reviews and buying advice

Tue, 2018-07-10 17:00

A great wireless router is an essential element of tech life, whether you’re building out a smart home or you just want the best experience streaming music and video at home. We pick the best models here, because even those of us fortunate enough to have ethernet drops in every room have devices—smartphones and tablets, for instance—that depend on Wi-Fi to connect to the home network if not the internet.

Wi-Fi router cheat sheet

Our quick-hit picks:

Twin and sometimes conflicting demands for high performance and ease of use are powering a thriving and rapidly evolving market. Innovation is one of the biggest upsides of this dynamic, and confusion its biggest downside. Today’s hero could be tomorrow’s has-been, as established brands like Linksys and Netgear try to one-up each other while simultaneously fending off new challengers such as Eero and Luma. But it’s those challengers who have innovated the most, starting with Eero, the first manufacturer to bring mesh networking to the consumer router market.

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Got Wi-Fi coverage troubles? Take $50 off one of the best home mesh systems today

Tue, 2018-07-10 15:41

If you’ve got a large home, you’ve likely noticed that it’s a hassle to get good Wi-Fi signals in every room. To improve the coverage, you need to good router mesh system. Fortunately, right now Amazon is selling the wonderful Netgear Orbi Home Mesh Wi-Fi System—the compact version—for just #249.48. That’s $50.51 (or 17 percent) off the usual asking price of $299.99.

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How to use iOS 12's new animated Activity stickers for Messages

Tue, 2018-07-10 14:50

Apple continues its emphasis on health and fitness features in iOS 12 and watchOS 5. Apple Watch users can enjoy new workout types and auto workout tracking, for example, and they can challenge other Watch users to week-long Activity Challenges duels.

On the phone side, iOS 12 makes talking about fitness more fun with a new set of animated Stickers in the Messages app. Here's how to find and use them.

IDG Finding Activity stickers

The new Activity stickers are located in the same place where you'll find most Messages apps.

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3 reasons why Microsoft's Surface Go beats Apple's iPad (and 3 reasons why it doesn't)

Tue, 2018-07-10 11:13
Microsoft's new Surface Go has its sights squarely set on the iPad. But is it a real competitor to Apple's tablet dominance?

Belkin's $230 USB-C Express Dock is down to $99—and even less if you're an Amazon Prime member

Tue, 2018-07-10 10:59

If you could use a few more connections on your laptop on your MacBook or PC, Belkin's USB-C 3.1 Express Dock, which comes equipped with a 3.3-foot USB-C cable, can provide up to eight ports. Amazon is selling is for $99 today, a sharp discount from its $229 list price and by far the lowest we've seen it. And if you're an Amazon Prime member, you can save another 20 percent, bringing it down to an unheard-of $80.

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Get a Lifetime of VPN Unlimited for Just $39.99

Tue, 2018-07-10 10:42

With the potential of Internet service providers selling off your browsing info, protecting your data has become more essential than ever. A lifetime subscription to VPN Unlimited can help by safeguarding your online activities and sensitive business information. Normally $500, you can get a lifetime subscription today for just $39.99 today. 

VPN Unlimited hides and encrypts your data from prying eyes, which is ideal when you're connected to public WiFi, regardless of whether you're sitting in a coffee shop or an airport.

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Best media streaming devices

Tue, 2018-07-10 10:30
Which streaming box is best for cord cutters? And what's the skinny on streaming sticks? Our buying guide will help you pick the right accessories for your TV.

iOS 12: How to customize grouped notifications

Tue, 2018-07-10 07:00

If you ever ask an Android user what they dislike most about iOS, Apple’s notification system almost always enters the discussion. Before iOS 12, we’d get individual notifications for every little thing, while for years Android decluttered its home screens by smartly grouping notifications.

With iOS 12, Apple finally gets its own version of grouped notifications. Even better, you can customize which apps have grouped notifications and which don’t. After all, some apps benefit more from individual notifications than others. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Press Notifications.
  3. Find the specific app you’d like to customize the notifications for, and press it.
  4. On this screen you can do all kinds of things with your notifications, but for our purposes, we want to scroll down to Notification Grouping. Press it.
Leif Johnson/IDG

I’m only picking on Messages here because it’s the app I get the most notifications from. As you can see, I keep most turned off.

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Custo-meh-er satisfaction: Buyer’s remorse and the iPhone X

Tue, 2018-07-10 06:00

The iPhone X has been out for about eight months now, so it’s time to look back on what a mistake it was to buy one.

Writing for the very fine people and editors and plague monkeys at Business Insider, Matt Weinberger is positively meh on the iPhone X.

“I bought a $999 iPhone X eight months ago—and I kind of regret it.” (Tip o’ the antlers to David, Nick and Damien.)

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Apple updates macOS High Sierra to version 10.13.6

Mon, 2018-07-09 17:24

Apple on Monday released an update to macOS High Sierra. The update comes on the heels of iO 11.4.1, watchOS 4.3.2, and tvOS 11.4.1, which were released earlier in the day.

AirPlay users will want to install this update sooner than later. MacOS High Sierra 10.13.6 includes AirPlay 2 multi-room support, so you can now play music on multiple AirPlay 2 speakers and control them on the Mac.

According to the release notes, the 10.13.6 update also:

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Save $90 on an Apple Watch Series 3 from Target

Mon, 2018-07-09 14:13

Target has been targeting Apple users as of late, and that’s a good thing. Just yesterday the retailer offered a rare massive discount on Apple’s AirPods, but the inventory vanished by the time I had the article ready. Fortunately, today Target (through Google Express) is offering a fantastic 25 percent discount for the Apple Watch Series 3 when you enter the code EXTRA25 at checkout.

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Apple releases 11.4.1 bug-fix updates for iOS, tvOS, and HomePod, plus watchOS 4.3.2

Mon, 2018-07-09 14:04

Apple has begun rolling out a suite of OS updates. For your iPhone or iPad, it’s iOS 11.4.1. For Apple TV, it’s tvOS 11.4.1. HomePod used a variant of the same OS, and thus its version number is 11.4.1 as well. For Apple Watch, you’ll see a watchOS 4.3.2 update.

These are point releases that don’t add new features, but rather fix bugs and optimize performance. 

This is the 15th update after the initial release of iOS 11 on September 19, 2017, which makes iOS 11 the most-updated version of iOS ever.

What’s new?

iOS 11.4 added Messages in iCloud, AirPlay 2, and HomePod stereo pairing. This 11.4.1 update only fixes bugs found in the last six weeks since its release. Specifically, Apple calls out improvements in the ability to locate your AirPods in the Find My iPhone app as well as syncing mail, contacts, and calendars with Exchange servers.

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Anker's popular fast-chargers and portable batteries are on sale for unheard-of prices, today only

Mon, 2018-07-09 12:15

Forget about Christmas in July. This year, you can save big with Black Friday in July. Amazon Prime Day kicks off on July 16, and the retailer’s warming up for the blowout by offering some steep deals leading up to the event. Today, you can snag all manner of Anker’s popular chargers, cables, and portable batteries at mostly unheard-of savings. The discounts end at midnight Pacific time Monday, and you need to be an Amazon Prime subscriber (or sign up for a free 30-day Amazon Prime trial) to claim them.

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Amazon Prime members can grab a 50-inch 4K TV for $290 today

Mon, 2018-07-09 09:47
Amazon's selling a 50-inch 4K TV for $290, but you've got to be a Prime member to get the deal.

Adobe Creative Cloud: Pricing, discounts, and free trials for Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier Pro, and more

Mon, 2018-07-09 08:00

Adobe is easily the biggest name in digital creativity. While it’s best known for its flagship products such as Photoshop, InDesign, and Premier, Adobe has a whole fleet of software for creative professionals and hobbyists in the areas of photography, video and film editing, web development, animation, sound engineering and more. Interested? All of it can be accessed through Adobe’s online portal known as the Creative Cloud, via a yearly subscription payable either monthly or in one lump sum. 

Subscribing to the Creative Cloud’s entire collection of apps at $52.99 gives you plenty of tools to fuel your creative drive, and offers the best price-per-program value. But this could be overkill if you’re only looking to use one particular app, or your interest is in a single subject—say, photography.

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How to avoid losing media when working with iCloud Photo Library

Mon, 2018-07-09 07:00

I may have noted before that we receive more questions about Photos for macOS than any other topic at Mac 911. A recent set of questions from Macworld reader Pedro bring up an interesting intersection of potential pitfalls, some of which I’ve answered individually before, but which are useful to look at together.

Pedro has a small disk drive on his MacBook Air, just 128GB, and thus is wrestling like many people with keeping his entire Photos library on the internal drive. He has iCloud Photo Library active, and wants to rely on it, but is already running out of space. He has three questions.

Syncing, disabling, deleting, and then syncing. Pedro knows that deleting an image off the laptop will delete it everywhere when iCloud Photo Library is active, something I’ve reminded readers of time and time again. That’s good to know. However, he wonders about this scenario:

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Shark Ion Robot 750 review: Shark's first robot vacuum is a mixed bag

Mon, 2018-07-09 06:00
Shark's budget-friendly robot vacuum navigates obstacles well and has an elegant app, but falls surprisingly short on the cleaning quality.

Shark Ion Robot 750 review: Shark's first robot vacuum is a mixed bag

Mon, 2018-07-09 06:00
Shark's budget-friendly robot vacuum navigates obstacles well and has an elegant app, but falls surprisingly short on the cleaning quality.