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Samsung Goes After Apple in Parody of iPad Air Commercial

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Samsung is really going after Apple in their commercials. I included their video making fun of the iPhone 5s in a recent post. They also have a video that parodies an iPad Air commercial and highlights the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is marginally thinner than the iPad Air. I suspect, though, that the thinness comes at the expense of battery life. As we saw in a previous post, the iPad Air battery actually lasts for 13 hours of video playback, which is higher than the advertised 10 hours — and 40 percent better than the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition. Apple's original video that Samsung is parodying shows a pencil on a table at eye level, and talks about a wonderful tool that can be used for so many different things. Then the camera pans up, and you see an iPad Air was hidden by the pencil and that the commercial was really speaking about the iPad Air — while highlighting its thinness by hiding it behind the pencil. In the parody, a pencil again obscures an iPad Air. But then hidden behind the iPad Air is the Galaxy Tab Pro.



Microsoft Launches OneDrive to Rule Them All (and to replace SkyDrive)

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As people across the world slept on Wednesday night, Microsoft subtly shifted the branding associated with SkyDrive, the company's Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive competitor. The now rebranded OneDrive, offers a basic storage capability across devices. The initial allocation is an interesting 7GB. To get you started, mobile users who choose to backup their photos to OneDrive will be rewarded with an additional 3GB, bringing the storage capacity for new users to 10GB. Like Dropbox before it, OneDrive now encourages its adherents to send out referrals. Each referral that takes up the offer returns 500MB in incremental storage, maxing at 5GB of extra free storage.



More Evidence for Sapphire Crystal Display in iPhone 6

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It's a fact that Apple is investing heavily in supplies of sapphire crystal, including building their own manufacturing facility in Arizona that's expected to come online this month. It's unknown, however, exactly what this material will be used for. Virtually indestructible, the material is currently used to protect the camera lens and the Touch ID from scratching in the iPhone 5s. So what else will Apple be using it for? According to comments made Wednesday by the CEO of a company called Canonical that had to scrap plans for making a smartphone, Apple has bought up the "entire three-year supply" of the same sapphire crystal display they had been planning to use for their 4.5-inch device. The comments, which were reported by GigaOm, diverge somewhat from the most recent rumor out of the Far East that Apple would use Corning's Gorilla Glass for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and sapphire crystal for an "experimental" 5.5-inch "phablet."



Rumor: iPhone 6 with 4.7-Inch Display in September; 5.6-Inch "Phablet" to Have Different Name

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We have yet another report out of Taiwan saying that two new phones are coming from Apple with larger displays of 4.7 and 5.6 inches. This article, citing sources in Apple's supply chain, is from the Economic Daily News; you can see Google-translated report on Macotakara. A couple details stand out. The report labels the 5.6-inch phablet as "experimental" — and says that it won't be called an iPhone. A post on BGR says this detail is highly dubious, because the iPhone brand is so popular. Plus, they point out that none of the other rumors have indicated this. The Taiwan report also says that Apple's phablet will use sapphire crystal for the display. The iPhone 6 is said to have a display of 4.7 inches, and will continue to use Corning's Gorilla Glass. It will go into full production in July and will be out in September.



Freemium vs Premium: The Rise of Pay-to-Play Games

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Image source, Distimo Report March 2013, "How The Most Successful Apps Monetize Their User Base"

Let me start by saying, not all freemium games are bad. There are some notable titles that don't intentionally extort dollars from gamers. Freemium games rely on what has been referred to as the "friction point," the point in which a game has limited your progress and you either have to wait for your energy to recharge, pay more money to continue, or proceed to grind away at a lower, less challenging level while scraping credits together to gain a more competitive edge. The challenge for many freemium game developers is walking that line between frustrating the gamer enough that they are willing to throw down real-world money to advance and not frustrating the gamer so much that they put the game down and don't come back. Distimo released an interesting report in March 2013 showing just how profitable it is for developers to walk this line.



iWatch May Monitor Heart Rate, Blood Oxygen; Apple Patents Health-Monitoring Headphones

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The torrent of evidence for new products with a focus on health and fitness is astonishing, including a wide range of top experts Apple has hired. According to AppleInsider, a report last week in China's Electrical Engineering Times said that Apple is considering using optoelectronics in their rumored iWatch to monitor pulse and blood oxygen levels. This technology measures the changes in light reflected by the body. Light from small LEDs is projected onto one's finger, for example, and then the sensors measure the amount and color of the light reflected. From this it can determine how fast your heart is beating and how much oxygen saturation there is in your blood. Adding to the credibility of this report is the fact that Apple has hired experts in this area in recent weeks. Whether this technology is slated for an iWatch or other wearable device is unclear, but it appears likely that Apple is developing a product that will use it.



Testing Shows iPad Air Battery Life Beats All Other Tablets

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The iPad Air blasted the competition in recent tests of battery life conducted by the website Which Tech Daily. In fact, the testing found that it did even better than the advertised 10 hours, offering an impressive 13 hours of video playback. It beat out the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, the second generation Nexus 7, the Tesco Hudl, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD (2013 version), and the 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. The Air had a 40 percent longer battery life than the Galaxy Note 10.1, the lone tablet in the 10-inch range besides the Air. The iPad 2 and iPad mini with retina display didn't perform as well in video playback, scoring about in the middle of the pack. However, all three of the iPads tested performed better than all the other tablets in a test of Internet use, with the iPad Air again having the longest battery life, clocking 11 hours. The best an Android tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1, was able to do was 8 hours. By comparison, the iPad mini with retina display lasted 10.23 hours and the iPad 2 lasted 9.8 hours.



Enter the iPhone Life Photo Contest: Deadline Feb. 21!

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Mt. Rainier from Crystal Summit

It's photo contest time again. We know you enjoy taking occasional artistic shots with your iPhone, so why not get rewarded for it! Enter our iPhone Photography Contest for a chance to win awesome prizes and a spot in our magazine! 



Korean Giant, Actoz Soft, releases In a Space in Canada

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Canada seems to be the test bed for big developers. As you all know, Supercell launched Boom Beach in Canada and now South Korean gaming giant, Actoz Soft, has also followed suit with In a Space.



Flappy Bird: The Short Life of the World’s Biggest Little Superstar

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In July of 2012, an independent game developer named Dong Nguyen from Vietnam, inspired by what could only be the same angelic muses that visited Poe and Hemingway during their creative slumbers, decided on a whim to create a game consisting of birds smashing into green plumbing.

In all seriousness, the brilliant mind behind the indie craze Flappy Bird created a game similar to others he designed within his .GEARS game development team: a repetitive and difficult throwback to 8-bit retro console games popular in Japan. As someone still addicted to Super Hexagon, VVVVV, and Super Meat Boy, I can attest that with Flappy Bird Nguyen hit a home run out of the park.



iBeacons Installation in Baseball Stadiums Has Begun

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Major League Baseball announced on Friday that installation of iBeacon transmitters in two stadiums has now been completed as part of a project to install the technology in over 20 ballparks by the start of the season in late March. Some 65 iBeacon transmitters were installed in Dodger Stadium and Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. So what will it do for you? You'll need to load the MLB.com At the Ballpark app (free) on your iPhone or iPad, and then as you approach specific locations within the park, you'll receive messages on your device. Typically you'll receive offers for discounts at nearby concessions. Also, some parks are planning to use the technology to help guide you to your seat. And some will likely use it to offer information about points of interest within the ballpark. For example, a demo of the technology last fall at Citi Field, home of the Mets, used iBeacon to offer fans digital coupons as they entered the team's store. The demo also brought up an informational video when walking near the giant Apple in the stadium. Different parks will use it for different purposes.



Wall Street Journal Offers More Clues About Forthcoming Apple TV

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In a previous post, I reported on the story from Bloomberg that Apple was closing in on a deal with Time Warner and was hoping to introduce a new Apple TV device by April. That's starting to look unlikely. An article in the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that one source familiar with Apple's plans said Apple hopes to release a new device by June, and another said it may not be ready until several months after that. The WSJ article also helps to clarify the earlier reports of Apple's possible deal with Time Warner. The question was whether Apple was still trying to make a deal that would allow it to offer its own cable channels or if it's simply hoping to offer the cable companies a better set-top box. Apple had earlier wanted to offer full seasons of TV shows along with live programming. However, the article says Apple has given up on that idea, given the resistance of the cable providers. Most recently Apple is asking just for the five most recent episodes of TV shows. It's also possible, the article says, that Apple would simply sell the new Apple TV devices to the cable companies, who would then rent them as set-top boxes to subscribers, rather than Apple selling the device directly to consumers.



Bloomberg Reports Apple Planning New Apple TV Device by April

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There's been an odd coincidence of events this week, with Bloomberg reporting on Wednesday that Apple was negotiating a partnership with Time Warner and hoped to announce a new Apple TV by April. Then on Thursday news reports said that Comcast had agreed to buy Time Warner, causing observers to wonder what that will mean for Apple's deal with Time Warner. In any case, the Bloomberg report had some interesting details, citing "people with knowledge of the matter." The report said the updated Apple TV would have a faster processor and a new interface. The report also said Apple had also been in talks with Comcast and Direct TV, but they were reluctant to partner with Apple.



Five Apps to Help You Win at Valentine's Day

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February 14 is known as the most romantic day of the year. If you want to win over your love and make Valentine's Day a success, check out these five free apps.



Rumor: Apple Testing Bezel-Free iPhone 6

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When Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, it was dramatically different. Smartphones back then were covered with buttons, and typically had a keyboard on the front, like the Blackberry. Apple's iPhone was almost free of buttons, and unlike most phones at the time, used much of the face of the device for the display. There were bezels (or borders) around the edge to give you something to hold on to and avoid inadvertent touches of the display. Then Apple figured out how to recognize and ignore inadvertent touches, and therefore make the bezels narrower. Now the latest rumor, via The Korea Herald, is that Apple is testing a prototype of the iPhone 6 that has no bezel at all. The display would be the entire width of the phone.



Opinion: Snowden Leak about App Data Collection Leads to Question: 'What? Me Worry?'

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Purported Hack of Rovio Angry Birds Website (listed on Google as unverified)

Every week now there seems to be some new revelation about how our information is being collected by U.S. Government agencies for reasons that range from vague to useless to nefarious.  In late January, former NSA Edward Snowden suggested that Angry Birds, along with a number of mobile apps, were the source of intelligence information.

As with previous documents provided by Snowden, the NSA did not deny or confirm what information sources they use, but rather said that any communications they did collect not associated with “valid foreign intelligence targets” was not of interest.



More Evidence for iWatch; Apple's Sapphire Crystal May Be for iWatch, Not iPhone

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MobiHealthNews posted a number of iWatch scoops Monday based on sources with "limited but direct knowledge of Apple's plans...." They reported that Apple has over 200 employees working on the project. That suggests Apple is really serious about this new device, not just experimenting with prototypes.



Confirmation of New Apple TV Device; Beatles Channel Added

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Rumors continue to swirl regarding the Apple TV set-top box. One rumor is that Apple will be adding gaming and an App Store for the device sometime within the next six weeks. My hunch is that there's a good chance for this happening. In addition, there have been rumors that we'll see a new Apple TV device in the first half of this year. Now, according to a post on 9To5Mac, we have confirmation of a new device. Buried in iOS 7 is a reference to the forthcoming device, alongside references to the already-available versions. It's referenced as AppleTV4,1, with the previous iteration being AppleTV 3,2. The post says that the jump in increment to 4 suggests that the box will be a major upgrade rather than a minor update. 9To5Mac also notes that the previous Apple TV was introduced in March 2012, so it would make sense that March would be the month for the announcement for a new generation of the device.



Apple Ramping Up for Huge Sapphire Crystal Production

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Often Apple rumors are speculation based on comments from individuals in Apple's supply chain. However, the news about Apple's forthcoming use of super-hard sapphire crystal isn't rumor. The manufacturing facility has been built in Arizona and is expected to go into production this month, with 700 full-time employees. According to a report on Bloomberg, Apple will be able to produce as much as two times the current world capacity of sapphire crystal. Citing the mayor of Mesa, Arizona, where the plant is located, Apple will be able to make enough sapphire for 80-100 million iPhones. The question is, of course, what will Apple use the sapphire for?



Steve Wozniak on Steve Jobs, Wearables, Android, and the NSA

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Last week I had more fun than one person should be allowed to have. At appsworld in San Francisco, I had the privilege of meeting Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple.
 
When you think of Apple, it's natural to think first of Steve Jobs and the tremendous task he performed taking Apple, a company near the brink, and completely turning it around to become one of the world's largest companies and most coveted brands. However, if there were no Steve Wozniak, there would have been no Apple. Wozniak is the wizard who designed and built the first highly successful mass-produced personal computer.



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