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Apple Now Selling Unlocked, SIM-free iPhone 5s

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A number of days ago, Apple quietly began making a new option available for those interested in purchasing an iPhone 5s. You can now buy an unlocked, SIM-free iPhone 5s. As you likely know, this entails paying the whole price of the phone up front, but you avoid having to commit to a two-year contract. Note though, they're only offering GSM, which limits the phone to being used on AT&T's or T-Mobile's networks. You'll need to get your SIM card directly from one of those carriers. The price is $649 for the 16GB iPhone 5s, $749 for 32GB, and $849 for 64GB.



Apple Black Friday Offer: $75 Gift Card on iPad Air, $50 on iPad 2 and Original Mini

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Today, November 29, only, Apple is offering a $75 gift card if you purchase an iPad Air and a $50 gift card if you purchase an iPad 2 or the first-generation iPad mini. There's no gift card available for the purchase of the iPad mini with Retina display or an iPhone. It's great to see this offer, but one can't help but wish these were discounts rather than gift cards. And one can't help but observe that you'll get a better deal at Target, which is offering a $100 gift card on the purchase of an iPad Air, plus a price of $479 for the 16GB WiFi model, effectively bringing down the price to $379.



Apple Black Friday Discounts in Australia Give Preview: Gift Cards But No Discounts

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If Australia's Black Friday offerings from Apple are any indication, and most people are assuming they are, then it looks like tomorrow Apple will be offering a $70 gift card on the purchase of an iPad Air. But you'll be paying the regular price. Apparently there won't be any gift cards for the iPhone or the iPad mini with retina display, but there will be gift cards for the first-generation mini and the iPad 2 (probably about $45). So it looks like you'll get a better deal at the big-box retailers such as Target and WalMart.



Google Play Music Comes to iPhone

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You already have a ton of options when it comes to cloud-based music, including iTunes Radio, Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Amazon Cloud Player, and more. Yet you might want to consider Google Play Music, since it offers a combination of features not otherwise available. As you know, services like Pandora and iTunes Radio let you listen to songs similar to what you like, but you're unable to request specific songs. And subscription services such as Spotify and Rdio let you request a particular song and typically charge a monthly fee of around $10, but they don't store your personal collection in the cloud. Then there are services like iTunes Match and Amazon Cloud Player that let you upload your collection to the cloud and stream music that you already own. Google Play Music combines the ability to request specific songs (like Spotify and Rdio) with the ability to upload your music collection (like iTunes Match and Amazon Cloud Player).



Apple Announces Black Friday Event - But Offers No Detail

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Apple has posted a Black Friday page on their website alerting people to special sales coming up. But they give no detail. They'll be hard pressed to match the great deals being offered by big-box retailers such as Target and Walmart. 



Rumor: Taiwan Company to Manufacture 12.9-inch iPad and iWatch

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DigiTimes, which has connections in Apple's supply chain and which is frequently a source of rumors, reported today that the Taiwan-based company Quanta has been tapped by Apple to manufacture the rumored 12.9-inch iPad, which some are calling the iPad pro. The report says the larger iPad will be targeted toward the education and enterprise markets. And it notes that Quanta is facing some serious design challenges with the larger iPad that could limit its availability. The report says the new iPad is expected to launch in the second half of next year. Interest in larger tablets seems to be increasing, so it wouldn't be a surprise if Apple jumped into this arena.



iPhone Life Bloggers' Choice Awards: Best Apps of 2013

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We know you've come to rely on the bloggers at iPhoneLife.com for helpful reviews of all the best offerings in the App Store. With over 1 million apps for your iPhone and over 475,000 apps for your iPad, deciding which apps to download can be overwhelming. That's why we asked all of our bloggers to vote for their favorite apps released or updated in 2013. Here are their top three in seven categories!



More Black Friday Deals on iPhone and iPad

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If you're in the market for a new iPhone or iPad, Black Friday (Nov. 29) is the day to take the plunge. Actually, many of the great deals start as early as Nov. 28 and continue through the weekend. In a previous post I mentioned two websites tracking Black Friday deals and summarized the best deals. I wanted to also point you to the continuously updated comprehensive roundup posted on MacRumors. Plus, they summarize the best deals in a chart at the top of the page. Some remarkable deals are to be had: iPad Air for $379 at Target, iPad mini (first generation) for $199 at Walmart, iPad 2 for $299 at Target, and iPhone 5s for $114 and iPhone 5c for $0 at Walmart. MacRumors also offers shopping tips, such as which online retailers charge local sales tax in which states.



iPhone Life Exclusive: Lifeproof Special Holiday Offer

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Great news iPhone Lifers! Lifeproof, the manufacturer of the some of the most rugged, durable, and versatile iPhone cases on the market, has extended a special, exclusive offer to all of our iPhone Life readers. Read on to learn all about this great offer, which comes just in time for the holiday shopping season.



New Apple Web Page Shows Amazing Variety of Uses for iPad

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Apple posted a new page on its website this past week titled Life on iPad that shows the amazing range of uses for this device. It offers a two-minute overview video (embedded below) that shows snippets of people using an iPad for maintaining wind turbines, harvesting crops, assessing athletic performance, tracking inventory, accessing recipes, navigating in vehicles, driving race cars, doing surgery, playing games, drawing, performing music, accessing augmented reality, climbing mountains, and more.



Rumor: Apple Testing iPhone with 4.9-inch Screen

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We're going to have months of rumors regarding the next iPhone, but already they're starting to converge around a common theme: the iPhone 6 will have a larger screen. According to AppleInsider, the latest rumor comes from a popular Chinese technology blog, which reported that Apple is field testing an iPhone with a 4.9-inch display. Earlier Bloomberg had reported Apple was developing phones with curved 4.7- and 5.5-inch displays. In the past I've read that in fact Apple typically tests a variety of different models before settling on a particular one, so that may be what's going on here. But it does seem to indicate that Apple is serious about adding a larger iPhone to its line. In 2014 we may therefore see both a larger iPad and a larger iPhone.



Apple TV Gets Best Channels Yet: Yahoo Screen and PBS

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Since there's so much video available for free online, I avoid paying for content. Therefore, my main use for my $99 Apple TV device has been to use the AirPlay feature to stream free content from my iPad. Most of the best channels that come with Apple TV require a subscription, such as Netflix and Hulu, or they require that you already have a cable TV service (which I don't). So it was a real revelation when I tried the two new channels that Apple TV added Tuesday: Yahoo Screen and PBS. Each offers a trove of content—and all of it is free. These two channels may be the most compelling reason yet to get an Apple TV if you're someone who's considering cutting your cable subscription.



New App: Apple Store for iPad

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It's now a lot easier to shop in Apple's online store via your iPad thanks to Apple's new free app Apple Store for iPad. It does a good job of using the larger screen space of the iPad to enhance your shopping experience, while having some useful features. 



Apple Reportedly Buys Company That Makes 3-D Machine Vision Technology

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On Sunday the Israeli publication Calcalist (Google translation here) reported that Apple has purchased a company called PrimeSense, which makes chips used in 3D motion-sensing and computer vision. Their technology is used in Microsoft's popular Kinect (see image accompanying this post), which lets users of Microsoft's Xbox video game console and Windows PCs control the devices and play games just by making motions in the air. The article speculates that Apple will use the technology in conjunction with the rumored HDTV that Apple has been said to be working on. And it notes that Apple does indeed have patents regarding controlling a TV via motion sensing.



More Rumors of 12.9-inch iPad Coming Next Year

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The Korea Times reported today that Apple will be launching a 12.9-inch iPad early next year, according to "an official at a local Apple supplier in Korea." The source says that Apple's Korean supplier is already producing the display. Also, the iPad will not only be larger but will also have improved picture quality, approaching that of ultra high-definition. When Apple introduced the iPad Air last month, a number of observers suggested the name change opened the door for an 'iPad Pro," paralleling Apple's line of MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. The Korea Times says Apple is making the move to compete with Samsung and LG, who will also be introducing larger tablets next year. And the Sony VAIO Tap 11, with an 11.6-inch screen, is already available.



Measurements Show Retina iPad mini Has Narrower Color Palette Than iPad Air

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Initially the impression that Apple gave was that the iPad mini with Retina display was pretty much the same as the iPad Air, but smaller. Same processor, same high-resolution display, same camera. But small differences are emerging. The processor clock speed on the iPad Air is a bit higher than the retina iPad mini, and now AnandTech is reporting that the new iPad mini has the same color gamut as the first generation device, and a smaller range than the iPad Air. Their article shows the sorts of tests they run to measure a display's performance. The new mini clearly has a narrower color range. However, they said the difference is a non-issue and that while the difference is apparent, it's small. They say it would mainly be of concern to photographers and other professionals who need the best possible color reproduction.



iPad Air for $479 Plus $100 Gift Card & Other Great Black Friday Deals on iPhones, iPads

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It's time to start planning your Black Friday shopping, with some great deals available on November 29, the day after Thanksgiving. In fact, some deals are starting on Thanksgiving this year. Among the websites tracking iPhone- and iPad-related deals are iMore and IntoMobile. One of the best deals on the iPad may be Target's, which is offering a $100 gift card with any iPad purchase. Plus, they're lowering the price of the price of the 16GB WiFi iPad Air to $479. So that means that, in essence, you're getting the iPad Air for $379.



MacTech Conference: A Brush with Greatness!

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I just returned from the MacTech Conference in Los Angeles, where iPhone Life was a Media Sponsor.  The event was well attended and was truly a great experience. Attendees had opportunities to learn from great speakers, meet some great vendors, and hear some great observations from tech industry luminaries like Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun Times and Adam Engst and Tonya Engst of TidBits and their Take Control series of e-books.



Review Roundup: Retina iPad Mini

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As with the iPad Air, the early reviews of the new iPad mini with Retina display are stellar. Overall, the consensus is that the new iPad icontinues to lead the other smaller screen tablets. 

Associated Press: The $399 price of the iPad mini might too pricey for those on a budget, says the Associated Press, and in that instance recommends one of the other tablets or the first-generation mini. "But if you're looking for a top-notch experience, you can't go wrong with the new Mini, even with the higher price tag."



Rumor: iWatch Screen to Come in Two Sizes -- 1.7 and 1.3 Inches

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The Korea Herald today published a report saying that Apple's iWatch will come in two sizes: 1.7 inches for men and 1.3 inches for women. The information comes from a Taiwan conference presentation by a market supply chain analyst who cited sources from within Apple. Of course, nothing is officially known, though Apple CEO Tim Cook has indicated that new products are coming. The article also says the watch will possibly have a flexible display and could launch as early as the end of this year (which seems a bit optimistic).



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