Zac Hall


Editor at 9to5Mac + 9to5Google

Zac covers Apple news and product reviews for 9to5Mac. Zac also contributes to 9to5Google.

Email tips, typos, and any feedback to:

Tweet and follow: @apollozac

November 13

GOOG: 717.00

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November 10

GOOG: 728.32

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After first being announced and previewed in screenshots at WWDC in June, Apple has officially brought its subscription music service Apple Music to Google’s Android platform. Apple Music joins the iPhone maker’s other Android apps Move to iOS and the Beats Pill+ companion app on the Google Play Store.

Apple Music offers access to a large catalog of streaming music and music recommendations. Music and music videos can be saved for offline listening as well. Memberships costs $9.99/month for individuals, the same as Beats Music subscriptions which Apple Music replaces, after a three-month free trial period. Apple Music family plans for up to five different accounts is available through Family Sharing on iOS and Mac for $14.99/month. expand full story

Google is now rolling out a major new feature to its Maps app for Android: full offline support. Google Maps has some utility already when used offline, but an update coming as soon as today will make it much more robust when used without Internet access. For example, before you could see an area on Google Maps offline but not do much else with it. With the latest version, Google will enable features including navigation and business information lookup without requiring an active Internet connection. expand full story


November 4

GOOG: 728.11

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Facebook is said to be planning to launch its standalone news app with a list of media partners on board sometime next week. That’s according to Financial Times, which reports the app will be called Notify and include content from a list of media partners including CBS, The Washington Post, and Vogue. Reports of Facebook working on a separate mobile app focused on news rather than the social network first surfaced in early August.

The news comes just as Facebook announced today in its earnings report that it’s currently serving an average 1.01 billion daily active users each month…

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November 2

GOOG: 721.11

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Officially offering a denial to a report last week claiming Chrome OS would merge into Android by 2017, Google has taken to its Chrome blog to say Chrome OS is here to stay. Chromebooks that run the Chrome operating system has taken off especially well in the classroom, giving Google added incentive to ensure Chrome OS users that the platform isn’t facing any dramatic changes in the near future. Hoping to convince users that recent reports of the future of Chrome OS are wrong, Google has shared some usage numbers and even offered a peek into the future of Chrome OS… expand full story

A few weeks ago AT&T announced an upcoming network-level feature called NumberSync, which will allow customers to use one phone number on multiple connected devices like smartwatches, tablets, and connected cars. As promised, the carrier is unveiling the first two devices that will work with NumberSync: the Samsung Gear S2 and LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE.  expand full story


Blackberry’s first Android-powered smartphone, the PRIV, is coming to the United States this Friday on November 6 through AT&T. The carrier revealed that it will be the first in the US to carry the privacy and productivity focused BlackBerry. AT&T will offer the BlackBerry PRIV both online and in stores at the end of the week from $249.99 on a traditional two-year contract or from $24.67/month on a financing plan. expand full story

October 14

GOOG: 651.16

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AT&T is announcing a new network-level advancement called NumberSync capable of sharing one phone number with all connected devices. With NumberSync, AT&T customers will soon be able to use what’s called mobile twinning to share a single phone number with multiple SIM cards in smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and other connected devices. The goal is to let you send and receive phone calls or messages from all your connected devices without relying on a specific app or operating system feature. expand full story

October 9

GOOG: 643.61

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Update: Google says all services are restored!

Seeing Google Drive and other services unresponsive this afternoon? Rest assured that it’s not just you. Google has acknowledged the service disruption on its app status page with this message posted within the hour:

We’re investigating reports of an issue with Google Drive. We will provide more information shortly.

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October 8

GOOG: 639.16

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October 7

GOOG: 642.36

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iFixit’s 2015 Chromecast + Chromecast Audio teardown

Two years after the original Chromecast HDMI streaming stick, Google decided it was ready last week to unveil the sequel with a redesigned and more capable 2nd-gen Chromecast as well as an entirely new product for streaming audio to old speakers called Chromecast Audio. Readily standing by, the folks over at iFixit have already picked up and torn apart both new streamers. Both look remarkably similar on the inside at first glance, and iFixit has some praise for how Chromecast handles HDMI this year… expand full story

October 5

GOOG: 641.47

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I’m an Apple guy. I have enough Apple hardware around my house to serve as a mini-museum and I use Apple’s software and services every single day. But when Google makes something interesting like Chromecast Audio, I can’t help but want to try out the new toy.

Sold for just $35 (Google Store, Best Buy), Chromecast Audio lets you stream audio over the Internet from services like Spotify and NPR to old speakers. This varies from Apple’s AirPlay in that audio streams directly to the Chromecast Audio rather than from device to device, using your iPhone or iPad only as the remote. In practice, Chromecast Audio is most similar to Sonos, but with Google’s accessory selling at a much lower, irresistible price as it relies on your existing speakers rather than all-in-one units.

So what exactly is Chromecast Audio and what can it do? Read on for details… expand full story


September 24

GOOG: 625.80

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Samsung showed off a new Gear VR model at the Oculus Connect event today with a friendly price tag, wider compatibility, and an upcoming ship target. The virtual reality headset continues to be powered by Oculus but it’s considerably more affordable at $99 compared to the prior $199 version. Just in time for the holiday quarter, Samsung says its redesigned Gear VR will ship in November. It also boasts wider compatibility as it will work with all 2015 Samsung phones. expand full story

September 16

GOOG: 635.98

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Sure, technically Apple’s first Android app was the now discontinued Beats Music which it picked up through acquisition last year and it’s developing Apple Music for Google’s platform, but it’s very fitting that Apple’s first in-house app is called Switch to iOS from Android. Apple first announced the new Android app this year alongside iOS 9 at its developer conference, and today with iOS 9’s official launch the Move to iOS app is officially available on the Google Play Store. Here’s how it works: expand full story

September 10

GOOG: 621.35

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When Twitter launched Periscope earlier this year, the live broadcasting app embraced the natural way to hold smartphones: it portrait mode. But video wants to be shot in landscape as it looks best on TVs and computer displays, and Periscope doesn’t want to be trapped in your phone.

Paving the way for expanding to smart TVs and immediately creating a better viewing experience on the web, Periscope is adding support for broadcasting in landscape for the first time in its latest update for Android. The update lets broadcasters shoot in either landscape or portrait mode and viewers can continue to view new landscape streams in portrait orientation.

There’s also a new Android-only enhancement called Mutual Follow: expand full story


September 3

GOOG: 606.25

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Back in 2010 Google launched the Google Apps Marketplace to feature third-party software that enhances Google Apps for Work, and today that website is seeing a major update. expand full story

Google first introduced fact-checked health information to its Knowledge Graph earlier this year to present quality medical facts to users searching for specific conditions. Today the search giant says it will soon have over 900 health conditions included in its Knowledge Graph offering “quick at-a-glance info on symptoms, treatments, prevalence, and more.” Google says this more than doubles the amount of health conditions it included at the start. Google’s health information Knowledge Graph is getting smarter in other ways too.

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It was only a month ago that Skype for Android was hit with a slight visual refresh, and today Microsoft is pushing out a much bigger redesign to the messaging app that it says was inspired by Google’s Material design. Skype 6.0 for Android replaces the custom action bar along the bottom of the app with a new floating action button that should be familiar to other modern Android apps. The action button ties in shortcuts to video messages, video calls, voice calls, and conversation chats. expand full story


September 2

GOOG: 614.34

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The 5.5-inch Ascend Mate S flagship smartphone isn’t the only new smartphone coming out of Huawei at IFA today. The Chinese handset maker also unveiled its new premium Huawei G8 smartphone launching in several non-US markets next month. The Huawei G8 sports a full-metal body and comes in dark silver, gold, and white tones with a 1080p 5.5-inch curved Gorilla Glass display. expand full story

September 1

GOOG: 597.79

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After mostly letting it sit stagnant for nearly two years, Instagram is ready to show its Direct messaging feature some love. Instagram Direct, which lets you share photos, videos, and messages privately with other Instagram users, was seen as a play at Snapchat and similar apps when it launched in 2013, but it’s so far experienced limited appeal within the photo sharing app. Now Instagram hopes to change that with new features including message threads, giant emoji, sharing from your timeline, and more. expand full story

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