These Philips noise-cancelling headphones are powered by Apple’s Lightning port

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Philips already got out in front of Apple and Beats with its first pair of Lightning headphones, but now it’s got even bigger plans. Today the company announced that it’s making a new version of its NC1 noise cancellation headphones, but this time with a Lightning connector instead of the plain old headphone plug. The Apple-only NC1L will be available starting in the spring for $299.99, and we just got a firsthand look at them here at CES 2015. Note that the photos below are of an early prototype and missing the “L” in the product name; the final design seen in Philips’ press images differs slightly.

We’re all used to putting batteries in our noise-cancelling headphones, but the big appeal of these is that you’ll no longer need to…

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Windows 10’s new browser will have the most advanced features ever

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Microsoft is planning to radically overhaul its web browser in Windows 10. Sources familiar with the company’s Windows plans tell The Verge that the new browser, codenamed Spartan, will include a host of new features not found in rival browsers. Chief among the plans for Spartan is new inking support that allows Windows 10 users to annotate a web page with a stylus and send the notes and annotations to a friend or colleague. The web note service will be powered by Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage, meaning notes will be stored on a copy of a web page that can be accessed by any browser across multiple platforms. As annotations are shared, multiple users can doodle on a web page and share edits and annotations between groups.

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Netflix denies crackdown on VPN services

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Netflix may not be tightening its region controls after all. After a small scandal over the weekend, Netflix’s chief product officer Neil Hunt told an audience at CES that the company isn’t intentionally blocking VPN service and has no plans to do so. “The claims that we have changed our policy on VPN are false,” he told the crowd. “People who are using a VPN to access our service from outside of the area will find that it still works exactly as it has always done.”

“We are not changing our policy.”

That doesn’t mean VPNs are entirely in the clear. Most film and TV rights are specific to a given country or region, so Netflix is contractually obligated to try to prevent users in Brazil from watching a movie that’s only licensed for the…

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App Store sales rose 50 percent in 2014 to around $15 billion

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For every dollar spent in the App Store, Apple gets 30 cents. It’s a simple fact, but one worth remembering today, as Apple announces record sales figures for the App Store. The company says that billings rose 50 percent in 2014 with developers taking more than $10 billion in revenue from apps and in-app purchases throughout the year. Only eight days into 2015, and the App Store has broken two more records: the single biggest day ever on New Year’s Day, and its best week ever — with nearly half a billion dollars spent in the first seven days of January.

The App Store is a small portion of Apple’s revenue — but strongly profitable

This means that last year the App Store saw total sales of around $15 billion (it was $10 billion in 2013)…

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Here’s why Spotify should keep having chill concerts for old people

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I know Spotify is into this whole streaming-music thing, but if it ever wants to diversify, I recommend it consider custom catered concerts for middle aged music lovers and other people who hate crowds and bar food.

Tuesday night, I attended Spotify Supper, an annual party for buyers, marketers, publicists, celebrities, general business folk, and party beat reporters. Located deep within the caverns of the Bellagio, in a gold-trimmed nightclub called The Bank, guests were served a mix of good food and good music and brief business pitches.

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Snowden on cyberwar: ‘We have more to lose than any other nation on Earth’

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As the digital attacks between states become more common and more destructive, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is sounding the alarm. Speaking with PBS’s Nova Next from a hotel room in Moscow, the former NSA contractor detailed the often-ignored risks of taking sabotage and espionage into the digital space. “With every internet enabled operation that we’ve seen so far, all of these offensive operations, we see knock on effects. We see unintended consequences,” Snowden said. “When we put the little evil virus in the big pool of all our private lives, all of our private systems around the internet, it tends to escape and go Jurassic Park on us. And as of yet, we’ve found no way to prevent that.”

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First HomeKit devices confirm Apple TV’s limited role in home automation

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CES 2015 has given us a deluge of new HomeKit announcements. Thus far, we’ve seen several smart outlets, a garage door opener, light bulb adapters, a door lock, and a power strip from vendors such as iDevices, iHome, GridConnect, Chamberlain, Schlage, and IncipioElgato announced an entire range of HomeKit sensors while Insteon introduced a full-on hub that bridges HomeKit-compatible devices with Insteon’s vast catalog of otherwise incompatible smart home accessories.

Each new Wi-Fi device also shares one common trait: an Apple TV is required if you want to control them with Siri while away from home.

Apple is not positioning its little hobby device as a home automation hub

So, while commands like “Siri, turn off the lights in the…

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Steve Ballmer really likes Fergie

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Former Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer may have a new job, but he hasn’t lost his trademark enthusiasm. The new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers was recently spotted doing one of his wild dances during a Fergie performance at the Staples Center, home of the Clippers. His taste in music might be surprising, but for anyone who saw his powerful Microsoft goodbye, his intensity is pure Ballmer.

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Charlie Hebdo will publish one million copies next week with help from Google

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In the wake of yesterday’s tragic attack, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is planning its biggest print run ever. Hebdo’s usual circulation is around 30,000, but the surviving staff are planning to print one million copies of next week’s run, in a gesture that’s equal parts defiance and grief. Eight members of the magazine’s staff were killed in the attack, alongside four other victims. The magazine has solicited contributions from journalists and cartoonists across Europe to fill the pages of the upcoming issue.

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I gave my body to Soulcycle for a few minutes with the CEO of Twitter

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It is 7AM in the city of sin, and I am about to do the most puritanical thing possible. I, Nitasha Kamala Tiku, of okayish body and sound mind, have decided to strap my soul to a bicycle for a few sweaty minutes next to the CEO of Twitter. I am in the American Idol episode of Black Mirror and I had to prostrate myself before a brand for the privilege.

The bikes in question are stationary and located in a “pop-up studio” at the Cosmopolitan hotel hosted by Twitter and SoulCycle during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo let it be known that he would be attending two morning classes over two days. But in order to get into them, I had to publicly tweet hashtags at SoulCycle and beseech them for a spot. All…

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Microsoft launches gold edition Lumia 830 and Lumia 930

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CES may be nearly finished but Microsoft is still having a bit of fun. This morning, the company announced two new special editions of its Lumia 830 and 930 smartphones. The pair of devices offer the same specs as before (that’s flagship standard for the 930 and mid-range for the 830), but with the traditional bold colors replaced with black and white backs and an “anodized gold” finish.

The Nokia logo appears in gold on both phones — for perhaps the last time

Microsoft might be late to the gold trend, but they’ve pulled off an impressive trick: giving both devices a lustrous makeover that doesn’t look tacky. In fact, the gold trim on both devices looks stylish, especially set against the glossy black and white backs. Nokia’s logo on…

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Sixense’s motion-controlled VR lightsaber is just as much fun as it looks

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I finally know what it’s like to use a lightsaber, kind of. Not a replica, with the plastic light-up blade and little speaker. I know what it feels like to grab a hilt and see it extend, then parry volley after volley of blasts from a training remote, sending them shooting across the room. Or to drag it downward and watch it burn tracks into the floor. I also know what it’s like to spin around a Las Vegas hotel room, flailing my arms while holding two small black plastic barbells and worrying that I might hit someone with a nonexistent blade. The fact that these two things are so compatible speaks well of Sixense, the company behind the motion controllers I’m using.

The Sixense STEM (Sixense Tracking Embedded Module) is a motion tracker…

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HTC’s action camera can now stream live footage to YouTube

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HTC is making its periscope-shaped Re camera a whole lot more functional with a software update that lets users live stream footage via YouTube. The camera’s Android app will receive the update on January 9th, with iOS users having to wait until some time in the first quarter. Owners of the $199 Re will then be able to sign in to YouTube via the camera’s app and share links to private or public steams through the usual means — social networks, texts, or email.

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Your favorite metal album covers reimagined as classic jazz records

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Metal album covers, like the music itself, can be harsh. But if what if they mellowed out a bit, say with some jazz? That’s the idea Brazilian designer Rafael Melandi had when he decided to reimagine his favorite 1980s metal album covers with the style of 1950s jazz classics. “The result is that the minimalism and skillfulness of the art of the jazz period works perfectly with the strength of metal,” he tells The Verge.

His design series, called “Metazz,” features everything from a bright, orange, sunny take on Sepultura’s “Arise” to a Megadeth album that looks like a wonderful, lost sci-fi B-movie. On his Behance page, Melandi has included a side-by-side comparison that shows how his new interpretations compare to the original covers….

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Every CES has a constant, and it is will.i.am

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I stepped on to a suite balcony on the 21st floor of the MGM Grand in the late afternoon of the first warm day of CES. Blessed with a rare moment of peace found in the chaos of the first 48 hours, I almost missed will.i.am zip by me through the door. A few minutes later a rep for 3D Systems — the company whose event I’m there for — turned to him and said “I’m going to power you down. I’m going to have to turn you off.”

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Japanese messaging app Line has launched a taxi service in Tokyo

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Japanese messaging giant Line is going head-to-head with Uber, launching a taxi service in Tokyo this week and detailing plans for a nationwide expansion. The new Line Taxi service is available from within the company’s primary app, with drivers and cabs provided by Nihon Kotsu, one of Japan’s largest taxi companies. Kotsu, which has more than 3,000 cabs in Tokyo and some 23,000 vehicles in the country, will supply the rides, but Line will handle the payments — using its new mobile payment platform Line Pay to process all transactions.

Japan has been a relatively tranquil market for taxi apps — so far

The app’s main competitor in Japan will be Uber, which had a limited launch in Tokyo in November 2013 before expanding to a full service…

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Sony delays China launch of PlayStation 4

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Sony has delayed the launch of the PlayStation 4 in China for unspecified reasons. The company confirmed the move Thursday in a statement provided to Reuters, citing only “various factors.” The console was supposed to launch for the first time in China on January 11th, and Sony has not announced a new date.

Citing a company source, Reuters reports that the delay is due to extended negotiations between Sony and Chinese authorities. China lifted a longtime ban on video game consoles from foreign manufacturers last year, and both Sony and rival Microsoft have looked to capitalize. Microsoft launched its Xbox One console there in September, but also faced delays while awaiting government approval of its games. In addition to China’s…

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Philips announces noise-cancelling Lightning headphones, no batteries required

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Last year Philips beat Apple in the race to release the first set of Lightning headphones, and here at CES it’s taking a victory lap with another pair that feature active noise cancellation. The Fidelio NC1L headphones plug directly into iOS devices via the Lightning connector, and like their predecessors use their own integrated 24-bit digital to analog converter instead of the one built into Apple’s devices. But they also have noise cancellation, courtesy of four different microphones built into the headphones; the signal from those microphones is inverted, theoretically turning the background roar of those around you into silence.

Noise cancellation isn’t a new feature unto itself by any means, but what sets the new headphones apart…

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This is what Amazon.com could soon look like

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Amazon’s been testing a new design for its homepage for months, and it appears that the company opened it up to a broader group of users in the US today. Some of the changes include a flat dark bar that lines the top of the page, as well as a new dropdown menu that takes shoppers directly to Amazon’s Fire and Kindle products. The company has also managed to squeeze a lot more onto the page, whether you’re signed in or not. Otherwise, it’s mostly the same old Amazon, right down to product pages (which remain unchanged).

Amazon’s been tweaking this design, and various other iterations going back to July, something Amazon told GeekWire was part of an ongoing test. It’s unclear just how wide the test is at this point, though a cursory…

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