Sony Pictures was secretly attacked in February

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New details from the Sony leaks suggest the studio may have faced compromise long before its recent breach. Emails published by Gawker indicate that some Sony servers had been infected with malware in February, a full 9 months before the more recent attack. The breach specifically targeted SpiritWORLD, a system used to distribute media and financial information across the world on behalf of Sony Pictures. It’s unclear whether the two compromises are related, but Gawker notes that the data in the February breach was exfiltrated from Brazil, and a large number of the initial documents concerned Brazilian markets.

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This is how excited David Fincher was about the Steve Jobs movie

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With the ongoing leak of Sony emails and documents, we’ve been treated to a torrent of behind-the-scenes snark, posturing, and deal-making, particularly when it comes to the embattled Steve Jobs biopic. What we haven’t see thus far is a copy of Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay — but there’s plenty of new information about the project, including what director David Fincher thought when he first read the script.

Though the filmmaker was never able to close a deal to direct the adaptation (Danny Boyle will now take on the movie over at Universal, with Prometheus star Michael Fassbender reportedly playing the title role), in a February email he was beyond enthusiastic:

From: David Fincher
To: Amy Pascal, Scott Rudin (Personal), Mike De Luca
Cc:…

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Chickens are closely related to dinosaurs, and other insights from the new bird family tree

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Flamingos and doves are more closely related than they look, a new genetic analysis of birds shows. That’s not all: chickens are close relations of dinosaurs, and genetic patterns in the brains of birds that learn new calls show remarkable similarities to humans.

These findings stem from a project that sequenced genes from 48 bird species and then used several months of supercomputing time to analyze relationships. This week, eight papers appear in Science from the effort, which included more than 200 people from 80 labs. More than 20 papers will also be published in separate journals.

“an impressive effort”“This is an impressive effort that provides important support for a number of previous assertions that have lacked this extensive…

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Apple is being investigated for anti-competitive practices in Canada

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Apple’s Canadian arm is being investigated by Canada’s Competition Bureau for allegations it used anti-competitive practices to negotiate deals with Canadian cell carriers, Reuters reports.

The Competition Bureau — Canada’s antitrust watchdog — wouldn’t say who made the allegations, but did say Apple is being looked at for putting clauses that would hinder competition in its contracts with carriers. While it has sought a court order compelling Apple to hand over records related to the investigation, the Competition Bureau wouldn’t reveal whether it has gone after corresponding records kept by Canadian carriers.

No official charges have been filed against Apple

No official charges have been filed against Apple, and the Competition…

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Verizon says network investments won’t be impacted by FCC’s net neutrality push

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As the FCC continues to examine its options for establishing new net neutrality laws, ISPs have insisted that classifying broadband under Title II would stifle innovation. The argument goes like this: since providers can’t be sure they’ll recover money poured into their networks, they simply won’t bother investing at the same pace. AT&T has suggested as much — which led the FCC to ask it some questions on the subject — and other industry heavyweights like Intel and Qualcomm have also urged the Commission to steer clear of Title II. But Verizon, the courtroom opponent that dismantled the FCC’s previous net neutrality framework, isn’t echoing the “we’ll stop investing” threat.

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Google made Amazon pull the app store hidden in its app

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Earlier this year, Amazon updated its official app in the Google Play Store — and snuck in a direct link to its own app store at the same time. Previously, users who wanted to use Amazon’s app store had to sideload the app, a process that less tech-savvy users were likely to be familiar with, but this update let anyone install Amazon’s app from the Google Play Store and start buying apps through it.

It looks like Google has gone ahead and closed that loophole, though — as noted by Android Police, the main Amazon app has been replaced by a new app called Amazon Shopping. It appears identical to its predecessor, but without the direct links to the Amazon app store. Indeed, we checked on a phone that already had the older Amazon app…

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Google’s updated search app brings its Android design to iOS

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Google today updated its core search app for iOS, and the latest version does much more than add iPhone 6 support. Google’s given the entire app a makeover and says it’s “completely rebuilt” with animations styled after Android 5.0 and the company’s Material Design guidelines. This is probably most apparent in the new “recents” section, which collects your open and recently visited search pages in a multitask view that looks as though it was pulled straight from Lollipop.

Also new is the persistent Google button at the bottom of the app. Tapping this immediately brings up a search box, with voice search just another tap away. Google Maps has also seen much deeper integration with the Google app; you can swipe around and tap on…

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Iowa will let you use your smartphone as your driver’s license starting in 2015

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Iowa isn’t usually the first state that pops into your head when you think of technological innovation centers in the US — but the state has announced a pretty major upgrade to the humble driver’s license. As reported by the Des Moines Register, Iowa plans to offer official driver’s licenses as smartphone apps starting sometime in 2015. Citizens will still be able to have a standard card-style license, but it doesn’t sound like that will be a requirement. “It is basically your license on your phone,” said Iowa’s department of transportation director Paul Trombino. What’s not clear yet is what platforms will be supported — images showed the app running on an iPhone, but we’d have to expect at least Android to be supported as well.

In…

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Microsoft announces Windows 10 event for January 21st

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Microsoft is holding a special Windows 10 event in Redmond on January 21st. The software giant has started emailing out invites to members of the press today, inviting them to what is described as “the next chapter.” The Verge detailed Microsoft’s plans for its January event recently, noting that the company would mainly discuss consumer-focused features. Microsoft is expected to further detail its touch interface dubbed Continuum, alongside its plans for tablets and phones running Windows 10.

Microsoft first unveiled Windows 10 at an enterprise event in San Francisco, but we understand the January event will be more significant. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will be in attendance, alongside Windows chief Terry Myerson, Xbox head Phil…

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These are the apps that still look bad on Apple’s iPhone 6

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Too many apps still look lousy on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The oversized, ugly status bar still greets us several times each day. And the system keyboard ever-so-slightly changing size is enough to make anyone crazy. Why? It’s been nearly three months since iOS 8 launched to consumers, and while many developers big and small were quick to optimize their apps for Apple’s bigger screens, there’s still a massive list of laggards. And that list includes some pretty huge, powerful, and wealthy companies.

When we say “iPhone 6 support,” we mean it at the most basic level: just make your app look right on the bigger-screened phones. After all, that’s the way most developers are going; apps show longer lists, more emails, a few more songs, and…

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The Nexus 5 isn’t dead yet

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It was the phone that brought Android KitKat and high performance to the masses, combining a bargain price with flagship-class specs and a fast and fluid user interface. The Nexus 5 was one of our favorite phones last year and has continued to be a great choice deep into 2014, but today reports emerged suggesting that Google has axed it from its lineup. Tech Radar cites a Google spokesperson warning that production of the Nexus 5 has been discontinued and “once they are gone, they’re gone.” In an emailed statement to The Verge, however, Google disputes that claim by saying that the “Nexus 5 will continue to be available for sale on Google Play and through select retailers in Q1 2015.”

Despite Google’s protestations, it does seem like…

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New York just made sex reassignment surgery much more accessible

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Governor Andrew Cuomo just made sex reassignment surgery in the state of New York more accessible than ever before. According to The New York Times, his office sent a letter to insurers this week that lays out new grounds rules for coverage. As far as the state is now concerned, if a doctor decides that sex reassignment surgery is medically necessary, health insurers no longer have the option of denying coverage.

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Lyft is bringing its carpooling service to New York tomorrow

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Earlier this year, Lyft attempted to launch in New York with a spectacular failure, getting shut down by local regulators just a day before it planned to get its service up and running. But the ridesharing company bounced back, striking a deal with city officials just a few weeks later. Starting tomorrow, Lyft plans to expand its service in the city, letting strangers share rides if they’re going to similar pick up and drop off points.

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HP Stream 11 review: meet the next generation of cheap laptops

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Netbooks were actually a great idea.

When you boil it all the way down, it’s simple: build a computer that does all the things an average user needs and doesn’t try to do anything else, and sell it as cheap as possible. The problem was in the execution: netbooks were poorly made, slow, ugly, thick, hard to use, too small, didn’t last long enough, and were just generally a mean thing to force upon anyone you care about.

Windows manufacturers ran away from the netbook after it was…

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I’ve given up on Windows Phone

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I have a confession: I’m the proud owner of an iPhone 6. In fact, it’s now my full-time device. After using Windows Phone on and off since its introduction in 2010, I’ve grown frustrated enough to give up and switch back to iOS fully.

I’m the resident Microsoft expert here at The Verge, and for years I’ve switched between Android, iOS, and Windows Phone to check out new apps and how each platform is progressing, but it’s now clear Windows Phone is being left behind. I’m not alone: Ed Bott, a fellow technology writer, has also given up on Windows Phone, and Microsoft has left its loyal customers frustrated by focusing on iOS and Android. Microsoft may have made some significant changes to Windows Phone this year with the 8.1 update, but…

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Jolla’s 13,000 backers raised $1.8 million to build a tablet

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Three weeks after launching a crowdfunding campaign for its new tablet on Indiegogo, Jolla has announced it has raised $1.8 million, blowing past the $380,000 it was asking for. Jolla has also raised a round of corporate funding totaling €34 million ($42.2 million), giving the company a strong financial base to build the tablet running its custom-built Sailfish OS.

Over 13,000 people backed Jolla’s Indiegogo campaign

With a 2,048 x 1,536 pixel resolution, 64-bit 1.8GHz quad-core Intel processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and the ability to run Android apps, the specs match up with what you would expect from a modern tablet. The Finnish company has been positioning its 7.85-inch tablet as a cheaper alternative to the iPad mini and…

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Ford’s Sync 3 drops Microsoft, but can it fix the connected car?

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The infotainment systems that automakers put in their cars aren’t great. They never have been. So you’d think taking feedback from thousands of customers and using that input to reinvent the in-car user experience would be a good idea. That’s just what Ford claims it’s done with Sync 3, the third generation of its connected infotainment platform that’s being announced today. Sync 3 will start appearing in 2016 model cars. Ford says over 22,000 customer comments and suggestions helped steer…

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Chromecast now offers guest mode

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Google just announced a guest mode feature for Chromecast, making the company’s affordable streaming stick just a little more powerful. Instead of needing to dish out your personal Wi-Fi network’s password any time a friend wants to push content from their phone to your TV screen, guest mode now allows them to do it directly to the Chromecast stick itself. It’s opt-in, so once you’ve enabled the feature in the Chromecast app a Wi-Fi beacon in the stick becomes visible as a “nearby device” on any Android phone running 4.3 Jelly Bean or higher. From there, a 4-digit PIN is the only thing that stands in the way of that funny cat video your friend is about to show you. The new feature even defaults to attempting to transmit the PIN via…

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Amazon gets its first major award nominations with Transparent

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Amazon and Netflix are about to square off during Hollywood awards season. Transparent, the acclaimed Amazon original series from Jill Soloway, has earned a Golden Globe nomination for best comedy TV series. It’s the first time Amazon has really broken through with one of its own shows; previous attempts have fallen flat and failed to stand up against network programming and established Netflix hits like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. (The latter was also nominated for best TV comedy.)

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