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Voice Recognition Smackdown: Siri vs. Android

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Any comparison of iPhone and Android is bound to generate heat, but I thought David Pogue's smackdown between Siri and Android voice recognition was informative. The bottom line: the iPhone is better for dictation and for voice control of apps. But Android blows Siri away when it comes to web searches. 

Siri's dictation gets the edge because it understands a variety of formatting controls, such as "all caps," and all punctuation, such as "dash" and "ellipsis." Android just understands basic punctuation such as "comma," "period," and "exclamation point." Android, however, can do dictation even if you're not online whereas Siri requires an Internet connection. And Android transcribes as you talk, whereas Siri waits until you pause.



Why the Forthcoming iPhone 5S Needs a Fingerprint Sensor

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We keep hearing rumors that Apple's next iPhone, expected to be announced Sept. 10, will have a fingerprint sensor. The rumors say it will be a convex home button covered with super-hard sapphire crystal. The presence of related code found by developers in iOS 7 support these rumors. So assuming all this is true, what's the point? Security, of course. A helpful post on Macworld explains that passwords are fairly weak security, especially since so many people still do dumb things like use "password" as their password. Even two-factor authentication, in which a code is sent via SMS, still doesn't guarantee that the person with phone in hand is the rightful owner.



Rumors: Champagne iPhone, iPhone 5C to Replace iPhone 5, Photos of New iPad Casings

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Apple's stock has really been jumping up the past week. After having dropped below 400, it's now well over 500 and heading up. Excitement is building, thanks to rumors of a Sept. 10 launch event for the new iPhones. Yet more photos of a champagne-colored iPhone 5S have appeared, seemingly confirming that Apple will be expanding its palette of colors, not only for the polycarbonate low-cost iPhone 5C but also for the iPhone 5S.

Big questions remain, though: how much will Apple charge for the low-cost iPhone, and will it discontinue all earlier low-end models in favor of the iPhone 5C? An interesting post today on AppleInsider says that Apple will drop the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5, but retain the iPhone 4S as its low-end device. The iPhone 5C will be its mid-range phone. 



Forthcoming iPhone 5S May Sport Champagne Color, 128GB Storage, 64-Bit Chip

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It's just over three weeks until the rumored Sept. 10 introduction of the iPhone 5S, and the rumors are coming hot and heavy. The latest rumors, reported in an article on CNET, say the new phone may also come in a gold or champagne color. Plus, it may follow the precedent of the iPad 4 and offer an option of 128GB of storage. Also, this new baby is rumored to be even faster, thanks to a new A7 chip. A post on AppleInsider suggests this new chip will boost performance by 20 percent and that it may use a 64-bit architecture.



Steve Jobs Movie Starring Ashton Kutcher Opens Friday; New Trailer Posted

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The Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher is finally hitting the big screen this Friday, with a new trailer available (see below) and reviews starting to appear. Titled Jobs, the movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival early this year. Directed by Joshua Michael Stern and written by Matthew Whitely, it also features Josh Gad (Steve Wozniak), Dermot Mulroney, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons, and Matthew Modine. According to the synopsis, "jOBS plunges into the depths of his character, creating an intense dialogue-driven story that is as much a sweeping epic as it is an immensely personal portrait of Steve Jobs' life." It covers Jobs's life from 1971 to 2000.



iTunes Store Offering Discounts on 25 Movie Series Bundles

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Apple is currently offering a special movie promotion in the iTunes Store that lets you buy 25 bundles of movies for low prices, most of which are HD. For example, you can get the entire series of 10 HD Star Trek movies for $49.99. They even offer the entire Harry Potter series of 10 movies for $9.99. But when I tried to buy it, I got a message saying the item was being revised. Other series include The Lord of the Rings Trilogy ($9.99), The Bourne Collection ($29.99 for HD version), The Matrix Trilogy ($9.99), and The Godfather Trilogy ($19.99).



Apple Rumored to Introduce iPhone 5S and Low-Cost iPhone 5C at Sept. 10 Event

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All Things D broke the news over the weekend that Apple will be holding an event Sept. 10 to introduce the new iPhone. Nothing's official of course, but All Things D has a reputation for having solid inside information. It's not known exactly what Apple will introduce, but the evidence suggests Apple will announce the iPhone 5S and an iPhone 5C. Many parts and photos of the latter have been leaked, so the details of this phone seem fairly clear. The most intriguing photo, which accompanies this post, shows a carton of iPhone 5Cs in their boxes, which are clearly labeled iPhone 5C. I suspect that the "C" stands for color, since leaked photos have shown that the phone will come in multiple colors.



iPhone 5S Launch May Be Delayed to Late September

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All the evidence continues to point toward Apple's rumored low-cost iPhone and an updated 5th-generation iPad that's thinner and lighter being on track for an early September launch. However, according to AppleInsider, the iPhone 5S is much more challenging to manufacture, and production problems with various components could push back its availability to late September. And even then, supplies would be constrained but would gradually increase through October and November. A separate post on AppleInsider about the forthcoming iPad mini says the expected model with Retina display could be delayed until next March or April. It would launch alongside a second new version that would be somewhat lower-priced than the current iPad mini and without a Retina display. 



Apple Testing Prototypes of Larger-Screened iPhone and iPad

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Apple is always experimenting with prototypes, so a report in today's Wall Street Journal doesn't necessarily mean we'll see these devices. But the details are fun to contemplate: they say Apple is testing an iPhone with a screen larger than 4 inches and an iPad with a screen that's nearly 13 inches. The article doesn't say what size iPhone screen Apple is considering, but an artist's rendering by Marco Arment on AppleInsider shows what a 5-inch iPhone might look like (second from right).



Apple to Offer Freebies to Promote Free Apple Store App

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According to an interesting post on 9To5Mac, only 20 percent of iOS users are even aware of the free Apple Store app. Apple wants to change that and will be releasing a new version next Tuesday that will include temporary free downloads as a way to get more people to use the app. Apparently the offerings will include apps, music, and books. This will encourage users to buy more content from Apple and also bring more attention to the Apple Store app itself. And according to 9To5Mac, Apple hopes this will help achieve its recently stated goal of selling more iPhones through its Apple Stores. Currently, 20 percent of all iPhones sold are purchased from Apple Stores, and according to rumor, CEO Tim Cook wants to raise that figure to 50 percent. He views the iPhone as a gateway product—a way of introducing new customers to Apple's full line of products. If people purchase their phone at an Apple Store, they get more exposure to Apple's iPads, iMacs, MacBook Airs, etc.



'iPhone Lite' Rumored to be in Production; iPhone 5S Specs Leaked; Possible Retina iPad Mini This Fall

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The rumors contradict one another, but eventually they merge. And often there are no big surprises on the day of Apple's announcement. Yesterday, I was convinced we'd see a low-cost iPhone first and then the iPhone 5S later this year. Now the latest rumors suggest that the "iPhone lite" is indeed in production and will come in two different flavors. However, today's rumors also say the iPhone 5S is still on track, with leaked photos and details about the specs. And if that's not enough, various posts are suggesting that no, there won't be a delay on an iPad mini with retina display and that we can expect it this fall.



Holding Out for the iPhone 5S? You're Not Going to Like These Rumors

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In this stage of the rumor cycle, we typically see leaked photos and parts of the forthcoming iPhone. And while we've been seeing them for the low-cost iPhone with a polycarbonate case in multiple colors, we've seen much less related to the supposed iPhone 5S. All we've heard it it's rumored to be nearly the same as the iPhone 5, but with changes "under the hood." This is a bit fishy. And this fact lends credibility to a rumor reported yesterday by Bloomberg that at this late stage Apple has decided to go with a 4.3-inch display on the iPhone 5S. Citing the Taiwanese newspaper The Commercial Times, Bloomberg said this change could delay the introduction of the iPhone 5S until the end of the year. According to The Commercial Times, Apple had originally planned to launch the new model in October. 



New Version of Google Maps Released; Finally Includes iPad-Specific Version

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Google has now released Google Maps 2.0 (free), with new features as well as a native version for the iPad. Finally! This remains a very popular alternative to the built-in Maps app from Apple, and its new features in version 2.0 such as live traffic updates and Explore make it even better. It also includes five-star ratings from users and from Zagat as well as indoor walking directions for malls, transit stations, airports, etc. Plus, unlike the previous version, you can now cache data so your maps info is available even if you don't have a live Internet connection.



Phone Carriers to Allow Yearly Upgrades [Update]

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The devil is in the details, and I'm having a bit of a hard time understanding these. But the bottom line is this: T-Mobile and AT&T have announced new plans whereby customers will be able to upgrade their devices every year (even twice a year for T-Mobile), which will entail trading in their old phones or tablets without having to pay an early termination fee. Plus, rumors are saying Verizon will be announcing a similar plan. [Update: Verizon has announced Edge. See below.] These new offerings make it easier—if you're addicted to these gadgets—to always have the latest and greatest. AT&T just announced its new option today, called AT&T Next, with CNET having a somewhat clearer description of the details than the Reuters report. 



Latest Rumors: Updated iPad Mini, iPhone 5S Production to Begin, iWatch in 2014

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I love my iPad mini, and the big question for enthusiasts these days is whether Apple will introduce a model with a retina display this year. The rumors have been on both sides, with some saying it's coming and others saying it will take a while to work out the technical challenges. Now the latest rumor says we will indeed be seeing a refashioned iPad mini this fall, but no, it won't have a retina display. According to the not-always-reliable website DigiTimes, this fall we'll see a new thinner and lighter iPad with improved specs.



These Videos Show Why Apple is Great

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I've watched two videos from Apple recently that give insight into why the tech giant has done so well. People simply love its products, and Apple's bottom line is evidence of that customer loyalty. This is all the more remarkable considering Apple always takes the long view, unlike most companies whose focus is short-term profits.

The first video is a simple animation with text explaining Apple's philosophy in a minute and a half.



iPad mini Winner Announcement —Thank You for Participating in our Satisfaction Survey!

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Thank you to everyone who participated in our satisfaction survey, and congratulations to Tim (undisclosed last name) for winning the iPad mini! The response was fantastic, and it was so rewarding to get everyone's feedback on our magazine and website. You are the best customers in the world, and the survey proved it. While we still have a lot of information to go through, we wanted to share a few tidbits with everyone, just for fun.



Judge Finds Apple Guilty of Conspiring to Fix eBook Prices

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Earlier this week, federal judge Denise Cote found Apple guilty of conspiring to fix eBook prices, though Apple continues to deny having done anything wrong and has vowed to appeal the decision. The US Department of Justice had not only sued Apple but also five of the six major publishers who it said had conspired with Apple. All five of those publishers settled with the government. But Apple was resolute, convinced that its actions helped foster competition in the eBook industry rather than undermine it.

What did Apple do? When it came out with the original iPad, it wanted eBooks to be a major selling point. Amazon was dominant, and Apple needed to be able to compete with them. At the time, Amazon was acting as a retailer for the publishers, just as with print books. That meant Amazon was free to set whatever price it wanted. And that price was low: typically $10 for a New York Times bestseller. Amazon was willing to set prices so low, it may have even been losing money because it saw these eBooks as "loss leaders"—the age-old trick of selling an item below cost in order to get customers in the door.



Target Offering Up to $50 Gift Card for iPad & Apple TV, But is it a Good Time to Buy?

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If you've been thinking of buying a Wi-Fi iPad, then head on over to Target. As part of their "Bonus Black Friday" promotion, they're offering gift cards with purchases of variety items, including a range of iPad Wi-Fi models. Buy an iPad mini, and you'll get a $40 Target gift card. Buy a 4th-generation iPad with retina display or an iPad 2, and you'll get a $50 gift card. They're also giving $10 gift cards with a purchase of an Apple TV. The deals are available through July 13 both in-store and online.

Of course, the question always is, should I buy now or wait for the next model? Even a $50 discount might not be enough to persuade you if you're hoping Apple will come out with a thinner, lighter iPad with retina display or an iPad mini with a higher-resolution display this fall.



Newly Leaked Photos Show Subtler Colors for Low-Cost iPhone

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It seems ever more certain Apple will introduce a low-cost iPhone in the next few months and that the phone will have a polycarbonate case in multiple colors. Leaked parts and photos of parts have earlier suggested brightly colored phones. The most recent photos to appear online show more muted colors. Also, these photos show a blue phone for the first time.



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