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CES Jan. 8 Highlights

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From headphones to smart locks, here's what iPhone Life's Bloggers found to love at CES 2014 yesterday:

Siva Om checked out House of Marley's Liberate line. The company gets Siva's vote for Most Eco-Friendly. 



New Free App from Yahoo Offers Summary of the Day's News

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I like news apps, and Yahoo has just recently released Yahoo News Digest (free), which is one I'm definitely going to be using. There's already a plethora of news apps, but this one has two distinguishing characteristics. First, there are just two daily editions, one in the morning and one in the evening—unlike other news apps that tend to be updated throughout the day with random bits of news. The advantage of just having two editions is that it's a true summary of the most important news, not simply the latest news across the wire. A second distinguishing characteristic is that the news is curated. An algorithm helps assemble the news, but the news summary is also curated by hand. I like that. One reason I still enjoy newspapers and magazines is that they present curated content: I feel confidant my time will be used more efficiently, since someone has organized the content beforehand. It's not as frenetic as the stream of news items that come across a typical web-based news service.



Rumor: iPhone 6 To Be 6 mm thick

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All the rumors are now starting to refer to the forthcoming phone as iPhone 6. And the latest rumor, courtesy of Forbes, is that it will be just 6 mm thick. 



Apple Announces It Sold $10 Billion in Apps in 2013

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Apple announced Tuesday that App Store sales exceeded $10 billion in 2013, including $1 billion in December alone. According to the press release, iOS developers have now earned over $15 billion. Apple also reported that there are now over 1 million iOS apps available, including over 500,000 designed specifically for the iPad. The press release highlights some of the surprise hits of 2013, such as Ellen DeGeneres’ Heads Up ($0.99, games), ProtoGeo’s Moves ($2.99, health & fitness), Simon Filip’s Afterlight ($0.99, photo & video), and Kevin Ng’s Impossible Road ($1.99, games). And it highlights some of the year’s most successful games that were created by international developers, including Candy Crush Saga (free), Puzzles & Dragons (free), Minecraft ($6.99), QuizUp (free), and Clumsy Ninja (free)



Apple Buys SnappyCam App Along with Developer SnappyLabs

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The iPhone 5s camera is already a wonder, and clearly Apple has plans to make it even better, as indicated by the news this past weekend that Apple had purchased both the SnappyCam app and the one-man company that developed it: SnappyLabs. The app had been quite popular because it allowed users to take a burst of high-quality photos, similar to the burst mode Apple eventually incorporated into the iPhone 5s. Apparently creating this feature was no small feat, and Apple must have been impressed by the achievement of the developer, John Papandriopoulos. Apple's intention is likely to incorporate some of the impressive technology of SnappyCam into the iPhone's Camera app. But Apple also purchases companies with the intention of not only acquiring their technology but also their personnel. And so Papandriopolous will now be contributing his expertise as an employee of Apple.



CES 2014: Best of Pepcom's Digital Experience

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For me the Pepcom Digital Experience is like the unofficial launch of CES, an informal party where exhibitors give us a preview of what we can expect in the coming days of CES. With the sprawl of wireless charging solutions, audio gear, gaming gear, robotics, cameras, and wearable smart accessories it was a challenge to absorb everything that is on display. Nonetheless, I did my best to check out each and every booth at this condensed version of CES, and the following are some of the highlights of what I came across last night.



Rumor: iPhone 6 to Offer 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch Displays

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A post late last week on the website BGR, which cited a Chinese website, reported that Apple will be coming out with 4.7- and 5.7-inch iPhones this year — significantly larger than the 4-inch display of the iPhone 5 family. The source for the information is said to be Foxconn executives. While it's impossible to know what Apple will do, the repeated rumors of a larger iPhone clearly suggest that Apple is testing larger prototypes. Typically when we get incessant rumors such as this, there tends to be some credence to them. The post on BGR gives an overview of previous iterations of this rumor, which has been reported by respected media such as The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. A 5.7-inch display would put the iPhone in the same league as Samsung's Galaxy Note 3, which also has a 5.7-inch display. Phones of this size are often referred to as "phablets," an elision of "phone" and "tablet."



Rumor: Apple iWatch Facing Manufacturing Challenges

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We just keep hearing about an iWatch, so it seems pretty definite Apple is working on such a device. The question is whether they'll bring it to market, since they're known for developing devices that they eventually decide not to release. 



Rumored "iPad Pro" May Be a Tablet/Laptop Hybrid

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Today two rumors have condensed into one. The first is that Apple is working on a 12-inch iPad that many are referring to as the "iPad Pro." The second is that Apple is working on a game-changing laptop that will be as portable as the 11-inch MacBook Air but as productive as the 13-inch MacBook Air. According to AppleInsider, one analyst has figured out that these two rumored projects may be the same one: Apple will come out with a tablet/laptop hybrid in the fall. This is possible, he says, because the new A7 64-bit processor gives the iPad much more robust computing power—on par with desktop computers. In addition, given that the A7 processor is less expensive than the processor currently used in the MacBook, this would also help lower costs.



News Reports Say NSA Can Access Your iPhone

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As you likely know, a ton of documents pilfered and leaked by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA), have shown that that agency's surveillance has been shockingly widespread, including having access to the phone records of you and me. In recent days, the leaked documents have brought the NSA's snooping even closer to home, with the release of documents that say the agency had the ability in 2008 to take control of an iPhone. They were able to "remotely push/pull files from the device, SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc. Command, control, and data exfiltration can occur over SMS messaging or a GPRS data connection. All communications with the implant will be covert and encrypted."



Meet the Winner of Our iPad Air Giveaway!

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Last month when we announced Julia Gutierrez as the winner of our iPhone Life iPad Air Giveaway, we asked her to let us know what fun plans she had for her new iPad Air. Julia, who is a digital and print subscriber to the magazine, as well as an avid reader of our blog, recently emailed us to let us know how she plans to use her new iPad. 



Expect to Hear More About Apple's iBeacon in 2014

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Apple quietly introduced iBeacon this year as a feature in iOS 7. Basically this functionality uses the new Bluetooth technology called Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to let devices communicate with one another while using very little energy. This means that tiny transmitters can be placed at specific locations such that when you come in range, say within 10 feet, your phone alerts you with some information. Apple, for example, earlier this month deployed iBeacon transmitters in 254 of their US Apple Stores. If you have this feature enabled, you'll receive information as you browse in an Apple Store. For example, if you pause by the iPhone display, the iBeacon will inform you of your upgrade status and encourage you to trade in your old phone for a new one.



Today's Gift from Apple is Best Yet: Scorsese Film Hugo

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We're in day five of Apple's free app 12 Days of Gifts, and today's present is the best yet: the award-winning 2011 film Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese. If you haven't yet downloaded the app, now would be a good time to do it. 



More Rumors of a 4K, 12.9-Inch "iPad Pro"

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A few days ago I listed the rumor that we'll see a 4K "iPad Pro" as one of the craziest rumors of 2013. Yet the rumor keeps popping up. A 4K display would have twice the resolution of today's retina iPad. To my mind, it's not credible, given the difficulty and expense. Plus, it's not clear to me whether the unaided eye would even be able to see the difference. You can read about the latest rumor on Forbes, which cites as it sources the Chinese language website Pad News as well as Foxconn, the Chinese company that manufactures many of Apple's devices. According to one rumor, Apple already has a prototype ready of a retina iPad Pro and is now working on developing a 4K version of the iPad Pro. By way of comparison, the retina display of the iPad Air has a resolution of 2048 x 1536, while an iPad with a 4K display would have a resolution of 4096 x 3072.



Holiday iPhone Sale Still Going on at Best Buy: iPhone 5c, free, iPhone 5s $125

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A friend got some money for Christmas and emailed me to ask where she should go to get an iPhone. I checked and was surprised to see at least one holiday sale still going on. So if you're in the same situation, be sure to check around. As I write this on December 28, Best Buy is offering the 16 GB iPhone 5c for free and the 16GB iPhone 5s for $124.99. There's also a $75 discount on models with more storage. Of course, these offers entail committing to a two-year contract.



Be Sure to Get Your Free Gifts from Apple

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We're in day 2 of Apple's 12 Days of Gifts, a free app that offers you something for free each day for 12 days starting on Dec 26. Yesterday's inaugural freebie was a music download that included the four songs performed by Justin Timberlake at this year's iTunes Festival. Earlier today Apple's offering in the U.S. was the pilot episode of the TV series "Once Upon a Time," which I downloaded to my iPad Air.



Holiday Sales on 200 Games: Act Fast

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Now is a good time to buy games for your iPhone or iPad. Electronic Arts, one of the top game developers, is having a limited-time sale on 40 of its games, which are currently available for $0.99. You can see a list on TUAW. That page also lists special holiday prices on scores of additional games from developers such as SNL Playmore, Subatomic Studio, Taito Corporation, Warner Bros, Gameloft, and many more. Around 200 games in all. 



Vote Now in the iPhone Life Photo Contest: Voting Ends Dec. 30!

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Vote now in the iPhone Life iPhone Photography Contest! The deadline is Monday, December 30. Click HERE to choose your favorite images. The top 10 photos will be featured in the March-April issue of iPhone Life magazine.



2014 Rumors: Larger iPhone in May, 12.9-Inch iPad in October

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In an end-of-year memo to employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "We have a lot to look forward to in 2014, including some big plans that we think customers are going to love." That's not much to go on, but it's created a lot of buzz. And it lends support to the latest rumor that Apple will be releasing a larger iPhone in May and a 12.9-inch iPad in October. Both rumors of larger devices are gaining some traction, given that various sources in Apple's supply chain have indicated this. The most recent provenance is the Taiwan publication DigiTimes. Their source says that Apple has considered both a 12.9-inch and 13.3-inch display for the larger iPad, with the former now seeming more likely. The report doesn't say what size iPhone is expected in May, but past rumors have said that Apple has been testing a 4.9-inch model. One analyst has suggested that the phone will be between 4.5 and 5 inches, and that a model larger than 5 inches is unlikely.



The iRing and Other Crazy Rumors from 2013

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It's been a great year for new devices from Apple, each of which was preceded by months of rumors—which I dutifully passed along. Many turned out to be true: a new iPad with a form factor like the iPad mini, an iPad mini with retina display, and a lower-cost iPhone. But some were off. There were many rumors of an HDTV from Apple that would arrive late this year. Many people are now doubting Apple will ever come out with one, even though they're known to have developed a variety of prototypes. We kept getting rumors of an iWatch, which have gotten more tangible over time. But still no watch. 



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