Must Read Bits & Bytes

Office for iPhone debuts as Microsoft drops 365 sub need

Office for iPhone debuts as Microsoft drops 365 sub need

Microsoft refuses to slow down on its software push, with a new free Office suite for iPhone and by dropping its Office 365 subscription requirement for its iOS and upcoming Android apps, as it redoubles its efforts to grab mobile user share. The new Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for iPhone - taking on Apple's own Pages, Numbers, and Keynote - arrive alongside updates to the same apps for iPad, but also see Microsoft announce a new Office for Android tablets beta program. Though not quite open for business yet, Android tablet owners can sign up for when the apps are released in early 2015.

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Jawbone UP3 hands-on – Smarter sensing, cleverer coaching

Jawbone UP3 hands-on – Smarter sensing, cleverer coaching

If you're going to ask someone to wear a fitness tracker 24/7, it better be good, and Jawbone believes its come up with a killer in the new UP3. It's 30-percent smaller than Jawbone's old flagship, with a new design from Yves Behar, but this is no simple remolding of an UP24, however. Instead, it's the launch vehicle for the company's new multi-sensor platform, stepping beyond the simple accelerometer found in most wearables and adding a new bioimpedance sensor among others for not only movement, sleep, and heart tracking, but the promise of even more in-depth metrics that can be unlocked with a simple firmware update. I stopped by Jawbone to find out why UP3 could put other wearables to shame.

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Galaxy S6: pulling Samsung up by its own bootstraps

Galaxy S6: pulling Samsung up by its own bootstraps

It's called codename Project Zero, they say, and it'll change the way the Samsung Galaxy line has been evolving over the past several years. If the Samsung Galaxy S III was Samsung's coming of age, the Samsung Galaxy S6 will be a revolution. Of design, mostly - not so much on the specifications. We're in a stagnated state of affairs in the smartphone business across the board, after all. It's the physical design of the smartphone that'll be changing, not necessarily the experience.

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Facebook “I’m a Voter” sends election apathy on a guilt-trip

Facebook “I’m a Voter” sends election apathy on a guilt-trip

It's voting day in the US, and Facebook is pushing apathetic social networking addicts to get out and cast a ballot, running another highly-visible campaign to encourage activity in the midterm elections. A new banner running at the top of the Facebook wall offers the virtual equivalent of a sticker for those who take advantage of their democratic rights, while clicking the "I'm a Voter" widget takes users to a map to find out where their nearest voting station is. It's not just idle whistling, however: research indicates Facebook's timely prompts - not to mention the virtual peer pressure of seeing those of your friends who have already voted - actually gets people into the booths.

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Amazon Prime photos unlimited storage’s big caveat

Amazon Prime photos unlimited storage’s big caveat

So you're considering picking up an Amazon Prime account because you heard you get unlimited storage space for photos, yes? There's a reason you might not want to do that. When you get an Amazon Fire Phone or Fire tablet or Kindle device, you may get Amazon Prime as well. Once it expires - if you allow it to expire, that is - you might have a tough time looking at those photos you've been saving for months and months. Those photos will start disappearing.

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Self-healing maps could solve autonomous cars’ big problem

Self-healing maps could solve autonomous cars’ big problem

Nokia's HERE team is working toward a self-healing mapping system for autonomous cars, tackling the thorny issue of rapidly out-of-date navigation data by giving self-driving vehicles the intelligence to cook up their own HD maps. With cold water liberally poured on Google's self-driving cars recently given the relatively minimal area within which they can roam, questions have been raised over just how practical such vehicles might be given the constantly evolving road network. According to HERE's ambitious scheme, though, the fleet of smart cars itself is the key to keeping the data clean.

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This is the Nexus 9, Android Lollipop’s tablet vanguard

This is the Nexus 9, Android Lollipop’s tablet vanguard

Google's Nexus 9 faces more than a few challenges. Not only does it have the job of following Google's well-esteemed Nexus 7, which for two generations gave Android tablet fans an affordable and bag-friendly option, but it also serves as flag bearer for Android 5.0 Lollipop on a tablet form-factor. Throw in the fact that it also marks HTC's long-awaited re-entry into the slate segment, and that it's the first true 64-bit Android tablet courtesy of NVIDIA's Tegra K1, and that's a whole lot of pressure resting on one 8.9-inch iPad rival. So, how does it hold up?

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Nexus Player Review – Android TV’s awkward debut

Nexus Player Review – Android TV’s awkward debut

The living room has proved to be a challenge for Google. The company which has been so successful in dominating so many of the screens we interact with on a daily basis - our computers, phones, and tablets - has perversely struggled for that most traditional of displays, the humble TV. Google TV was flabby and confusing; the axe fell on the Nexus Q before it even went on sale. Only the Chromecast has had any measure of success, and yet just when we thought Google might have a strategy, along comes a different platform again, Android TV. Running first on the Nexus Player, but set to spread to smart TVs from numerous manufacturers, it’s Google’s fourth lounge reboot, but is it really necessary?

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Virgin Galactic’s Branson vows “the dream lives on”

Virgin Galactic’s Branson vows “the dream lives on”

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, has spoken publicly on the crash of SpaceShipTwo, promising to not only figure out what brought down the craft during a test flight last week, but hopefully continue working toward the dream of space tourism. The incident, on Friday, saw SpaceShipTwo explode over the Mojave desert in California during a test of the new engine, killing one pilot in the process and leaving the other with major injuries. Second explosion of a private space endeavor in the space of a week, it has renewed questions around commercial space flight.

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Nexus 6 hands-on – A whole lot of Lollipop

Nexus 6 hands-on – A whole lot of Lollipop

A new Nexus is always a big deal, but the Nexus 6 is big in every sense. Google and Motorola opted to go large for the latest pure-Android smartphone, giving Lollipop a vast 5.96-inch 2560 x 1440 Quad HD touchscreen in which to ply its "Material Design" wares. In fact, the Moto X stylings carried over from Motorola's own-brand flagship are deceptive, and side-by-side there's a considerable difference between the two. Google has kept the real magic for itself, nonetheless, and the Nexus 6 is shaping up to be as capable as it's coveted.

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