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Walmart Black Friday Deals Include iPhone 6 for $104

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Black Friday deals are coming soon, and websites are beginning to post the details. AppleInsider has all the info on Walmart's deals, which include an iPhone 6 for $179 plus a $75 gift card, meaning that your final price is effectively $104. They also have iPad deals, such as the first-generation 16 GB iPad Air for $397 with a $100 gift card.



Best Black Friday Deals for iPads

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The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 are only about a month old, yet you can snag some serious discounts this Black Friday, thanks to Best Buy and Target. If you don't want to join the crowds the day after Thanksgiving, or even Thanksgiving evening, you might be able to get the same deal using their websites.



Popular Third-Party Onscreen Keyboard Swype Free Until Friday

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One of the great features of iOS 8 is the opportunity to use third-party keyboards instead of Apple's onscreen keyboard. Swype (free until 11/14/14) had long been extremely popular in the Android world, and many users rejoiced when it became available on the iPhone and iPad. It greatly speeds text entry. Instead of tapping individual characters, you simply make a continuous swipe around the keyboard. In addition, the more you use it, the more it becomes familiar with the words you use — and anticipates the words you're entering. Whether you swipe or type, your text entry will likely be faster.



Keep Your iOS Devices Running the Same OS

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The release of iOS 8 (and subsequent updates through iOS 8.1 so far) brought about the usual dilemma for owners of older iOS devices. Should they upgrade or stay at iOS 7 (and even iOS 6 in some cases) and only run iOS 8 on any newly acquired devices? Personally, I've chosen the latter, and running iOS 8 on my new iPhone 6, but running iOS 7 on my iPad Air. Today, that changed. It wasn't by choice, but rather necessity, as I had to do a Keynote presentation which had been created on my MacBook Pro running Mac OS Yosemite. That required upgrading the iPad Air to the latest version of Keynote for iOS, which also required iOS 8.



Smartphones with Personality

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When Apple announced the iPhone 5s, with gold as one of the color choices, and the many colors of the iPhone 5c, many naysayers commented that when you resort to color choices to differentiate your product, you've lost. Still, demand for the gold model outstripped supply, and sales of the iPhone 5c, while not as popular as the iPhone 5s, would be the envy of most Android handset makers. So it's interesting to see what LG has announced to differentiate their latest Android phone.



New Tool from Apple Lets You Remove Your Phone Number from iMessages

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If you're so devoted to your iPhone that you know you'll never ever use a different platform, then you don't need to read this post. But if, someday, you were to forsake your iPhone and switch to Android, then Apple's new web tool will be of interest to you. It's intended to address a problem that arises when one makes the switch. What had been happening is that when people switch to another platform, when their contacts who still use iPhones send them a text message, it automatically gets sent as an iMessage. Because iMessages can only be read on iOS devices, a text message sent to the new Android user doesn't get through.



iPad Trumps Microsoft Surface Tablet on CNN Election Night Coverage

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Microsoft is having a hard time getting mind share for their Surface tablet, which has really struggled in the marketplace. In order to change that, they did a deal with the NFL for all the teams to use Surface tablets as their playbook. (Something that some teams had already been doing on iPads.) Unfortunately, it backfired somewhat, when announcers kept referring to the tablets as iPads.



Google Maps Gets a Makeover, Adds Uber Integration

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Last Wednesday, Google announced a new version of Google Maps (free) that gives it a new design and a more intuitive interface. Google refers to the new style as their "Material Design" with brighter colors, bolder textures, the use of surfaces and shadows to emulate the real world. Their announcement says that "layers and buttons come to life so you know just where to touch to get directions, recommendations, and imagery."



Amazon Echo Wants to Be the Centerpiece of Your Smarthome

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Amazon may have stumbled with the Kindle Fire Phone, due to pricing missteps and other issues, but they're not done innovating and working on integrating their technology into our daily lives. Today, Amazon preannounced the Echo, an unassuming speaker that does a lot more than play music. The cylindrical device sits in your home and is always listening for verbal commands. Similar to Siri, you can ask Echo for weather reports, to play music, etc. The gadget has omni-directional speakers and microphones that can listen to commands even if they come from far away.



Microsoft Office Apps for iPhone and iPad Now Free; Dropbox Added

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Last spring Microsoft brought their Office suite to the iPad, but unless you paid for a subscription for a Microsoft home or office product, the apps could only read files, not edit them. That has now changed. This week Microsoft released a new version of their Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) that includes editing capabilities in the free versions. In addition, the suite is also now available on the iPhone. Plus, the apps now support Dropbox. This is a welcome change. However, if you want the full feature set, you'll still need an annual subscription.



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