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Baig: iPhones 6 and 6 Plus are a very big deal

Personal Technology columnist Ed Baig takes a look at the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

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NEW YORK — Are the bigger iPhones worth all this big time attention? The answer is a resounding yes, a point emphasized by consumers who've preordered the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus in record numbers. These are the phones Apple devotees have been waiting for: iPhones that measure up to what's fast becoming the new normal — the large, modern smartphone display. Count me among those glad they're here.

People have preordered on faith, since they haven't seen these super-sized iPhones up close or experienced what they feel like in pockets and handbags. I have and let me be reassuring — you won't regret your decision, though going big may require a small adjustment, and my experience wasn't totally trouble-free.

The new phones are enclosed in sturdy anodized aluminum. And though the handsets are bigger and heavier their predecessors, they're also thinner. The sleep/power button has moved to the side. Each has the Touch ID fingerprint scanner introduced on the iPhone 5s.

The 6 Plus is the first Apple phone to enter the phablet category popularized by Samsung's Notes. Samsung has been running ads — a bit defensively I think — knocking the new iPhone as playing catch-up with even its older Notes models. But while Samsung's phablets are equipped with souped-up styluses called the S Pen for writing and other tricks, Apple eschews the pen.

Here's a closer look at the 6 Plus and the 6.

SIZING UP THE SIZES. The iPhone 5 and 5s really do look like a kid brother placed next to the 6 or 6 Plus; the iPhone 4 or 4s models are practically toddler-sized.

I prefer the 6 Plus because I like the biggest of the big screens, and like that I have to squint less often. It felt fine in my jeans pocket, but won't fit every snug purse or small pair of hands.

The 5.5-inch 6 Plus has an 88% larger viewing area than the 5s. The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 has a 38% larger area. Both have splendid Retina HD displays, with resolutions of 1334 X 750 and 1920 X 1080 respectively.

The screens accommodate an extra row of home screen icons. And when you're, say, checking your calendar, you can glance at seven days of appointments at once on the 6 Plus in the weekly landscape view, compared with six days on the 6 or five days on the 5.

It's harder (but not impossible) to use the iPhone 6 Plus one-handed, even with Apple adding a gesture called Reachability which makes the top portion of the display move down toward the bottom when you gently double-tap the home button.

It's also still a tad unnatural to hold a really large phone up to your ear during a call. In that sense the 6 felt more comfortable.

Apple made other accommodations on the 6 Plus: When you rotate the phone to its side, some apps display a two-panel view. On both new phones you have the option of choosing a standard view with normal-size icons and fonts, or a zoomed view that gives you bigger controls but less room for other stuff.

Developers may have to make some adjustments before their apps are iPhone 6 Plus- ready. The search icon inside the YouTube app actually touched the Bluetooth icon and the battery gauge in the Apple task bar.

The rumored rugged Sapphire display didn't happen (though Sapphire covers the Touch ID button and the camera lens), so if you're the type to protect your phone with a case, you'll obviously have to spring for a bigger replacement.

• CAMERAS. Larger displays double as larger viewfinders, a benefit to photographers. You can use either volume button to fire off a picture, which is nice. I generally found the 6 easier to maneuver, though the 6 Plus has an optical image-stabilization feature that the 6 lacks, to reduce the shakes when you're shooting video. Video I shot on the 6 Plus from a moving car came out smooth. However, on the 6 Plus I once couldn't stop shooting a video, an apparent bug. You can now shoot high-definition videos at a faster (60fps) frame rate and also shoot time-lapse videos. And Apple has also improved the focusing system. I was pleased with the quality of pictures and videos I shot.

Of note, selfie fans can now capture 10 photos per second as part of a burst mode feature added to the front camera. I took advantage of a timer feature that gives you three or 10 seconds to prepare for your close-up burst.

Video Keywords iPhone new iPhone Iowa State iCloud USA today iPod keys election speed dialing iTunes iPad Iowa

Personal Technolgy columnist Ed Baig takes a look at iOS 8, Apple's latest mobile operating system.

Video Transcript

Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

00:03 It big with USA today so even if you. Haven't
00:06 gotten a new iPhone chances are your phone may look a
00:09 little bit different if you've upgraded to Iowa -- -- that
00:12 is the new version of Apple's mobile operating system. For iPhone
00:17 iPad iPod touches. -- Iowa State actually does bring a number
00:21 of improvements. Large and small and it's gonna mention a few
00:24 of them that I like or think. Have a lot of
00:27 promise. One of them are improvements to messages you can now
00:31 actually record. Your voice when sending a message he's just press
00:35 your finger down against an icon swipe up. Off the message
00:39 goes. And you can set it so that message expires in
00:42 two minutes or you can keep that message out there until
00:45 the person the other end users to delete it. Now apple
00:50 of course in the iPhone has always had favorite kind of
00:53 the equivalent of speed dialing. But still there's an even newer
00:57 ways to get to your contacts your favorites or the people
01:00 you've recently communicated -- What you do is you actually double
01:04 tap the home button. And that brings up that multitasking view
01:08 and on top of that view you'll see little small circles.
01:12 -- pictures of the people who were in your favorites or
01:15 again the people you've recently communicated with. It's a short cut
01:19 -- calling them back or sending them a message. Now also
01:23 new to IOS is something apple calls. And we plan and
01:28 this is a way to share of the family calendar. Share
01:31 some of the music or books you buy it through iCloud.
01:35 It's also a way to monitor what the kids who share
01:38 this account by. You could set it up so they must
01:41 ask you before you approve the purchase that they wanna make.
01:45 In iTunes expect parents to. Potentially appreciate that feature. -- another
01:51 feature. That is coming is called what apple calls continuity. And
01:57 the handoff which is part of that. The idea is you've
02:00 started something on your neck or your iPod or your iPhone.
02:05 You complete the task whether it's preparing an email making a
02:08 call whatever you completed on one of the other devices. So
02:12 again start on the Mac or iPad for example. Completed on
02:15 the iPhone or vice Versa. And I'll also mention one more
02:19 feature which is a newly improved apple keyboard. For the for
02:24 the iPhone now. For the first time apple is letting you
02:27 and third party keyboards to to your iPhone but they've also
02:32 improved the keyboard that. Is sort of baked in to the
02:35 phone it now has improved suggestions war anticipating the words he
02:40 -- type election C. That right above the the row of
02:44 keys election C word or phrase suggestions. Makes it's much easier
02:49 to type more accurately. And faster and yes we've seen this
02:52 sort of thing before on various android keyboard. It's still a
02:56 welcome addition to the iPhone. Through IOS today. And there's a
03:00 lot of features here worth exploring so I would recommend just
03:03 poke around checking out. The features that have now been added
03:07 to your old iPhone or that are on your new life.
03:11 USA today and it paid no couch next.

• iOS 8. The operating system need not play second fiddle to the hardware; iOS 8 brings numerous improvements, starting with a better predictive Apple keyboard you come to appreciate quickly. The ability to install third-party keyboards as on Android phones is an added plus.

The new Health app is a useful repository for all sorts of health and fitness data. I used it to display the number of stairs I climbed, a measurement made possible by the barometer inside the new phones.

IOS 8 has also improved notifications and messaging. For example, you can tap and swipe to add a recording to an outgoing text message that can expire in two minutes. Also promising is a Family Sharing feature that lets you and other members of the household share a calendar, photos and iTunes, iBook and app purchases. You can make the kids ask before they buy. Expect frequent requests: The App Store now has more than 1.3 million apps.

• APPLE PAY. Can Apple get you to shop your way through a mall with a wave of your phone? We'll find out come October, when Apply Pay debuts for the 6 and 6 Plus.

I got to demo Apple Pay but not test it in the real world with crowded shoppers. The process certainly seems simple. In a store, you'll place the phone within about an inch of a compatible terminal while pressing the Touch ID fingerprint scanner to transact — pretty robust security right there. There's no need to unlock the phone.

Your credit cards are stored in the up-to-now seldom used Passbook app. Payment info is kept secure inside a chip on the phone. The merchant never sees your actual credit card number, and Apple is kept in the dark on what you bought or spent. If your phone is lost or stolen you can remove your cards from Passbook remotely through Find My iPhone. But there's no need to actually cancel your credit cards.

• BATTERY. Both new phones have bigger batteries, which should yield better results than on prior iPhones. Apple is touting longer battery life on the 6 Plus compared with the 6, up to 14 hours watching video, vs. 11 hours. I didn't conduct a formal test, but after a day of heavy mixed use, the battery on the 6 Plus pooped out about 7:15 p.m.

• GROWING PAINS. With the 6 and 6 Plus, Apple ditched a 32GB storage model. If you take lots of pictures and videos or download frequent apps, the 16GB entry capacity may not cut it. Now the step-up is 64GB or 128 GB.

Inside is a new Apple-designed A8 chip and the phone is snappy. But I hit a few snags, especially with the 6 Plus. A few times, the 6 Plus failed to rotate from landscape to portrait or back (the rotation lock was unlocked). Once the Mail app froze. Another time the 6 Plus restarted on its own. Reachability also didn't work one time until I rebooted the phone. Hopefully this is an aberration.

Notwithstanding such growing pains, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are smartphone stars. Really big stars.

THE BOTTOM LINE:
IPhone 6 and 6 Plus

www.apple.com

IPhone 6 is $199 (16 GB), $299 (64GB) and $399 (128GB) with two year contracts from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless or $649, $749 or $849, contract-free from T-Mobile.

IPhone 6 Plus is $299, $399 and $499 on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon with two-year contracts, or $749, $849 or $949 contract-free from T-Mobile.

Pro. Large displays provide extra screen real estate. Touch ID. IOS features such as Health app and redesigned predictive keyboards. Improved camera and Photos app. Optical image stabilization (iPhone 6 Plus only).

Con. IPhone 6 Plus may be too large for some users. 6 Plus was buggy. You may need to buy new cases or other accessories to accommodate larger displays.

E-mail: ebaig@usatoday.com; Follow @edbaig on Twitter.

(Baig is the co-author of iPhone For Dummies, an independent work published by Wiley.)

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Baig: What I like in iOS 8

Video Keywords iPhone new iPhone Iowa State iCloud USA today iPod keys election speed dialing iTunes iPad Iowa

Personal Technolgy columnist Ed Baig takes a look at iOS 8, Apple's latest mobile operating system.

Video Transcript

Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

00:03 It big with USA today so even if you. Haven't
00:06 gotten a new iPhone chances are your phone may look a
00:09 little bit different if you've upgraded to Iowa -- -- that
00:12 is the new version of Apple's mobile operating system. For iPhone
00:17 iPad iPod touches. -- Iowa State actually does bring a number
00:21 of improvements. Large and small and it's gonna mention a few
00:24 of them that I like or think. Have a lot of
00:27 promise. One of them are improvements to messages you can now
00:31 actually record. Your voice when sending a message he's just press
00:35 your finger down against an icon swipe up. Off the message
00:39 goes. And you can set it so that message expires in
00:42 two minutes or you can keep that message out there until
00:45 the person the other end users to delete it. Now apple
00:50 of course in the iPhone has always had favorite kind of
00:53 the equivalent of speed dialing. But still there's an even newer
00:57 ways to get to your contacts your favorites or the people
01:00 you've recently communicated -- What you do is you actually double
01:04 tap the home button. And that brings up that multitasking view
01:08 and on top of that view you'll see little small circles.
01:12 -- pictures of the people who were in your favorites or
01:15 again the people you've recently communicated with. It's a short cut
01:19 -- calling them back or sending them a message. Now also
01:23 new to IOS is something apple calls. And we plan and
01:28 this is a way to share of the family calendar. Share
01:31 some of the music or books you buy it through iCloud.
01:35 It's also a way to monitor what the kids who share
01:38 this account by. You could set it up so they must
01:41 ask you before you approve the purchase that they wanna make.
01:45 In iTunes expect parents to. Potentially appreciate that feature. -- another
01:51 feature. That is coming is called what apple calls continuity. And
01:57 the handoff which is part of that. The idea is you've
02:00 started something on your neck or your iPod or your iPhone.
02:05 You complete the task whether it's preparing an email making a
02:08 call whatever you completed on one of the other devices. So
02:12 again start on the Mac or iPad for example. Completed on
02:15 the iPhone or vice Versa. And I'll also mention one more
02:19 feature which is a newly improved apple keyboard. For the for
02:24 the iPhone now. For the first time apple is letting you
02:27 and third party keyboards to to your iPhone but they've also
02:32 improved the keyboard that. Is sort of baked in to the
02:35 phone it now has improved suggestions war anticipating the words he
02:40 -- type election C. That right above the the row of
02:44 keys election C word or phrase suggestions. Makes it's much easier
02:49 to type more accurately. And faster and yes we've seen this
02:52 sort of thing before on various android keyboard. It's still a
02:56 welcome addition to the iPhone. Through IOS today. And there's a
03:00 lot of features here worth exploring so I would recommend just
03:03 poke around checking out. The features that have now been added
03:07 to your old iPhone or that are on your new life.
03:11 USA today and it paid no couch next.

8 8 LINKEDINMORE

NEW YORK — Much as you might marvel about bigger displays, beefed up cameras and other features on the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, the software on the latest iPhones deserves props too. That software is iOS 8, of course, and even if you don't buy the latest phones, this fresh version of Apple's mobile operating system can make your old iPhone (sort of) new. The upgrade, which is compatible with iPhones dating back to the 4s (as well as versions of the iPad and iPod touch), becomes available Wednesday.

Here are a few features I like or that show promise:

MESSAGES. The Messages makeover starts with better group messaging. You can more easily add or remove contacts to group conversations. Meanwhile, Tap to Talk—a feature that lets you say it rather than type it by recording your voice on the fly—is one of those things you may come to rely on a lot. The messages can disappear after two minutes. You can also now send your mapped location to a Messages recipient.

QUICK ACCESS TO CONTACTS. Double-tapping the home button on the phone summons the multitasking view. But now you also see small circles with pictures representing your iPhone "favorites," and the contacts with whom you've most recently been communicating. Through this handy shortcut, you tap a circle to call, FaceTime or send a message to one of those contacts.

QUICKTYPE KEYBOARD. This may be the new iOS 8 feature you not only use most often but will most appreciate, even if the Apple keyboard is playing catchup to keyboards on rival Android phones. The goal is faster and more accurate typing. Say for example you're typing a message to a friend. As you type, you see three words (or phrases) in buttons that appear above the top row of keys. For example, if you type "Do you want to meet now or" the QuickType keyboard shows you buttons with three words you are likely

HEALTH. While the Health app provides a convenient place to store your health data—everything from body measurements to your blood pressure—you can also use it to create a potentially lifesaving Medical ID that can be accessed by an emergency responder, even without unlocking the phone.

SIRI GETS MUSICAL. The Siri voice assistant on your phone teams up with Shazam to identify the song playing in the background. You no longer have to launch the Shazam app to ID the ditty.

CONTINUITY. Mac meet iPhone, iPhone meet Mac. Through Continuity, you can start a task on your iPhone (or other iOS 8 device) then finish or hand off the task to a Mac computer running the upcoming OS X Yosemite operating system. It works in reverse too. Using, Continuity, the Mac can turn into a speakerphone for your iPhone.

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iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Review: Big vs. Extremely Big – Businessweek


Businessweek

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Review: Big vs. Extremely Big
Businessweek
I don't know if you've heard, but there's a new iPhone. Two, actually. The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. This isn't just a regular phone release from the cats in Cupertino. With the new devices, Apple (AAPL) enters a market in which it has literally been ...
iPhone 6 Review: Apple's Cure for Android EnvyWall Street Journal
Review and Video: With New iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, It's What's Inside That CountsNew York Times
iPhone 6 Plus: Apple's new beast may be too big for its bootsThe Australian
The Globe and Mail -Sydney Morning Herald -The Independent
all 791 news articles »
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Ebola Epidemic ‘Spiraling Out of Control,’ Obama Says

Declaring the Ebola outbreak a "threat to global security," President Obama today announced a significant American military effort in West Africa to help bring the spread of the deadly disease under control.

"We have to act fast. We can't dawdle on this one," Obama said during a visit to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

"It is spiraling out of control, it's getting worse, it's spreading exponentially," he said. "If the outbreak is not stopped now we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected."

How the US Military Will Combat Ebola in Africa

Obama, in New Video, Speaks to Africans About Ebola Outbreak

Stories From the Front Lines of the Ebola Outbreak

US to Send 3,000 to Africa to Fight Ebola Virus

The president said there were "profound implications" for the U.S., even if there was no immediate threat of an outbreak on American soil.

Obama said he has ordered the deployment of 3,000 U.S. military personnel to West Africa to take the lead in coordinating an international response, facilitate logistics and engineering.

The Pentagon is establishing a military command center in Liberia to be directed by an American general, who arrived today, Obama said.

In the next few weeks, U.S. service members will establish 17 treatment facilities with 100 beds each, train as many as 500 health care workers per week in proper care and containment techniques, and orchestrate a community messaging campaign about the disease, the White House said.

The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps will also deploy 65 officers to Liberia –- including administrators, clinicians and support staff -- to manage and staff a previously announced Department of Defense hospital to care for stricken health care workers, the White House said.

U.S. personnel will not directly provide care to infected patients in the general population, officials said.

Before visiting the CDC, Obama met at the White House with American doctor and Ebola survivor Kent Brantly, who was flown out of Liberia with government assistance, treated with an experimental serum at Emory University Hospital and recovered.

"He looks great, he looks strong, and we're incredibly grateful to him and his family for the service he rendered," Obama said of the meeting.

Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just "star" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here. To be notified about our live weekend digital reports, tap here.

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How the US Military Will Combat Ebola in Africa

The Pentagon is sending 3,000 people to West Africa -- more than twice the number currently stationed in Iraq -- to expand U.S. efforts to help fight the deadly Ebola virus, President Obama plans to announce today.

Military personnel will not directly provide health care to the thousands of patients, but they will help coordinate efforts of the U.S. government and various international relief organizations to contain the epidemic, according to a statement from the White House.

“It is so important that the U.S. is taking a leadership role in responding in West Africa,” said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor.

Besser added that with so few healthcare workers in the region, it’s unclear who is going to care for the sick if the U.S. doesn’t help. The president's plan only outlines care for ill health care workers, so there will be a big gap left unfilled, he said.

President Obama to Unveil Expanded Ebola Response

Ebola Outbreak Death Toll Swells as Americans Undergo Treatment

Ebola Survivor Nancy Writebol Recalls Dark Days With Deadly Disease

The U.S. military personnel will also help build additional Ebola treatment units in affected areas and recruit and organize medical personnel to staff them. Some of the facilities they help build will be used to train up to 500 healthcare providers a week who will directly deliver care to infected patients.

The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps will also deploy 65 officers to Liberia – including administrators, clinicians and support staff -- to manage and staff a previously announced Department of Defense hospital to care for stricken health care workers, the statement said.

The president has called the Ebola outbreak a national security priority. He will outline the new steps to address the crisis during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta today at 4:00 p.m., ET.

As of today, there were 4,985 probable, confirmed and suspected cases in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with 2,461 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. The countries affected are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. It has been called the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just "star" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here. To be notified about our live weekend digital reports, tap here.

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Misfit unveils a $50 fitness tracker: Flash

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SAN FRANCISCO — Interested in a fitness band but not sure where to jump in? Misfit Wearables, maker of the distinctive-looking Shine fitness tracker, is hoping to lure consumers with a $50 take on its distinctive-looking fitness disc.

The new Shine tracker is made of soft plastic instead of aluminum. Like Shine, you can use it to track movement and sleep. It syncs with a companion app for Android, Apple and Windows Phone devices.

Flash is one big button. An LED display shines through to show you your progress, or the time.

With smartwatches hitting the market from tech heavyweights including Samsung, LG, Motorola, Sony and soon Apple, fitness band makers will be jockeying for a place on consumers' bodies.

"Flash is the only fully featured activity and sleep tracker in the world for under $50, making it an incredible value," Tim Golnik, Misfit's VP of Product and Design, said in a release.

Misfit's Shine, and now Flash, has several things going for it: It's waterproof, and doesn't require charging. Its internal battery can last up to a year, the company says. In addition to automatically registering steps and distance you can use it to track things like cycling and swimming.

Flash is not quite as water-resistant as Shine — 30 meters for Flash compared to 50 meters for Shine. You can wear it on your wrist, lapel, shoes or wherever. It comes with a clasp and sport band.

It's coming starting later this month to retailers including Best Buy, Target and Walmart and can be pre-ordered now at misfit.com/flash.

Follow Nancy Blair on Twitter: @nansanfran.

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Americans Killed in Afghanistan Suicide Attack

Two Americans were among three foreign troops killed in a suicide attack near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan today, authorities said, with the Taliban claiming responsibility for the attack.

The Afghan interior ministry said 16 civilians were also injured in the morning rush-hour attack.

International Security Assistance Force members were among the victims, the ISAF confirmed. A U.S. official later said two of those killed were American and one was Polish.

PHOTO: Damage is visible on a vehicle following a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2014.

Aleem Agha/ABC

PHOTO: Damage is visible on a vehicle following a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2014.

The attacker targeted a foreign forces convoy.

PHOTO: Smoke rises after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2014.

Rahmat Gul/AP Photo

PHOTO: Smoke rises after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2014.

The blast shook Kabul's busy airport road, bringing chaos to a beautiful morning and leaving the roadway covered in leaves, shrapnel and debris. Thick smoke rose from the site of the attack.

PHOTO: Afghanistan National Army soldiers try to remove a damaged vehicle from the site of a suicide attack near a U.S. military camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2014.

Massoud Hossaini/AP Photo

PHOTO: Afghanistan National Army soldiers try to remove a damaged vehicle from the site of a suicide attack near a U.S. military camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2014.

U.S. forces stood guard after the attack, cordoning off the area and inspecting the damage.

PHOTO: A U.S. military force stands guard at the site of a suicide attack near a U.S. military camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2014.

Massoud Hossaini/AP Photo

PHOTO: A U.S. military force stands guard at the site of a suicide attack near a U.S. military camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2014.

Afghan and ISAF officials were reviewing the incident.

Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just "star" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here.

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‘Looney Tunes’ dashes to mobile in new game

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Fans of popular "runner" games on smartphones and tabletsb will find familiar faces chasing them soon: Elmer Fudd, Sylvester the Cat and Wile E. Coyote.

Mobile game maker Zynga unveiled Looney Tunes Dash!, a Temple Run style "runner" featuring classic cartoon characters Bugs Bunny, Tweety and Road Runner.

"Runner" games feature a character zipping down paths, running faster as the stage progresses. Players swipe left or right to dodge obstacles or jump and slide.

Players in Looney Tunes Dash! can also pick up power-ups, including a red potion transforming their character into the giant red monster Gossamer.

The interesting twist in Dash! is unlike most runners, where players can run endlessly or until they're stopped by an obstacle, the Zynga game features a finishing line.

"By completing levels, players progress to unlock new characters and enjoy zones set within iconic landscapes," says John vanSuchtelen, the game's general manager.

Zynga says the game will launch worldwide soon.

The partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment on the game is one of several Zynga announced in August. The games publisher recently launched the sports title NFL Showdown on Apple iOS and Google's Android platforms. Zynga is also working with professional golfer Tiger Woods on a golf game slated to launch next year.

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

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Apple’s Tim Cook on Charlie Rose, in three minutes

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SAN MATEO — Charlie Rose interviewed Apple CEO Tim Cook for the first time on his show, and it's out on the Web. It's 54 minutes. And that's just the first part.

So here's the interview, boiled down into three minutes. It's also on Hulu.com.

APPLE WATCH

Apple was working on the Apple Watch for three years. Apple is releasing it early so developers can work on specific Watch apps.

Rose, like anyone who watched that keynote video, could hardly wait to get his hands on Cook's model.

Cook has a teenage twang when he describes new products he's excited about. "The function of it is killer," he says of the smartwatch's computing capacity. And of the iPhone 6 screen— "it's just to die for."

THE COMPETITION

It's Google and ... really no one else. Samsung on hardware, but that's largely because Google's Android software enables Samsung, which Cook calls the best of the Android hardware makers. Facebook is more of a partner than a rival, he says.

Amazon? We have "little relationship" with Amazon, Cook says. And besides, it's not a product company. Apple is a product company, Cook says. Could that change? You'd have to ask Jeff Bezos, he tells Rose.

DIVERSITY

He believes in diversity – "with a Capital D," he says. He means: Diversity of Thought.

APPLE TV

It's got over 20 million users, so Apple doesn't consider it a hobby product. Regular TV "is stuck back in the '70s."

CHINA

Apple's business in Greater China in the last year was about $30 billion with a "b." As in BIG.

STEVE JOBS

Cook is most expressive when talking about his late boss. Enthused but also, still mourning.

Where was Steve in the launches of these new products? asks Rose.

"He's in my heart. He is deep in Apple's DNA. His spirit will always be at the foundation of the company. I literally think about him every day. His office is still left as it was ... on the fourth floor. His name is still on the door."

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No contract needed: Cheap smartphones better than ever

TJ Donegan, Reviewed.com 4:47 p.m. EDT September 15, 2014

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These days smartphones can do just about anything. One thing they still can't do? Bounce.

I figured this out the hard way last year while getting out of my car in a parking garage. My mind was miles away as I stepped out, forgetting that I had left my new phone in my lap.

Butterfingers. Klutz. Ham hands! I stared at the splintered ruins of the screen.

In an instant I went from having a brand-new phone to having a brand-new problem: Cough up a shocking amount of money to get it fixed, wait a year for an upgrade, or find a budget-friendly replacement.

A couple of years ago the idea of a "budget smartphone" conjured visions of buggy software, laggy touchscreens, and horrid performance. These days, you can find perfectly adequate — sometimes great — smartphones for just a couple hundred dollars, no contract required.

Phones such as Motorola's Moto G, Moto E and Google's Nexus 5 may not be as heavily advertised as the latest Apple or Samsung smartphones, but they pack serious value.

Motorola's Moto G, in particular, has set a new bar for what you can expect out of a cheap phone. The second-gen model was just announced a few weeks back, costing $179.99.

That low price is what helped make the first-gen Moto G the best-selling smartphone in the company's history. A sleek design and stellar performance didn't hurt either.

In our Reviewed.com labs we put the Moto G and other cheap alternatives to the test against heavy hitters like the Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3, and the iPhone 5s. In extensive testing we analyzed screen quality, battery life, processor performance, and camera image quality.

Though the Moto G wasn't the best-performing phone, it held its own against the flagships — all of which cost around $600 off the shelf. With a beefed up 8-megapixel camera and the ability to upgrade to Android L when it becomes available, the new and improved second-gen Moto G makes an even stronger case for itself.

The IDC projects that the average sale price of a smartphone in North America will go from $511.77 in 2013 to $471.07 in 2018. Worldwide, IDC expects that number to plummet from $334.27 to just $250.11 over the same time period.

The Moto G is hardly the only phone driving that trend, either. The slick-looking ZTE Nubia 5S Mini has 4G LTE and a wonderful camera app for just $280. The Nokia Lumia 635 has an iffy screen, but it also has 4G LTE and performs smoothly for less than $130 direct from the Microsoft Store. And Google's LG-made Nexus 5 provides true flagship-level performance and costs just $350 on the Google Play store.

Of course, $180 might seem high with many top-of-the-line phones being advertised as available for free. But those phones are heavily subsidized by wireless carriers and usually force you to sign up for a long-term contract — along with monthly fees that go toward paying off your "free" phone.

Furthermore, going with a cheap off-contract phone lets you shop around for more flexible, affordable plans. Since you're not paying off a portion of the phone's true cost every month, you should end up saving even more money in the long run.

If you're truly in a bind you can always dig an old phone out of the junk drawer. That was my first stop, pulling out a phone that I bought back in 2011 and hadn't used in a couple years.

Unfortunately, the years hadn't been kind; after five minutes the phone felt like it was on fire and the screen appeared to bleed black liquid. Apparently while slumming it among old rubber bands and playing cards my smartphone managed to become possessed.

In the end I picked up a $300 off-contract phone only to find it was nearly as powerful as the $600 phone I had destroyed. A year later my upgrade has come and gone and I'm still in no rush to replace it.

Americans aren't going to stop lusting after the newest iPhone or Galaxy S, of course. But it's reassuring to know there's a pretty good replacement to be had next time butterfingers strike.

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